Arguments for Liberty

By Aaron Ross Powell and Grant Babcock
About the Book

Two schools of thought have long dominated libertarian discussions about ethics: utilitarianism and natural rights. Those two theories are important, but they’re not the only ways people think about ethics and political philosophy. In Arguments for Liberty, you’ll find a broader approach to libertarianism.

In each of Arguments for Liberty’s nine chapters a different political philosopher discusses how his or her preferred school of thought judges political institutions and why libertarianism best meets that standard. Though they end up in the same place, the paths they take diverge in fascinating ways.

Readers will find in these pages not only an excellent introduction to libertarianism, but also a primer on some of the most important political and ethical theories. Assuming little or no training in academic philosophy, the essays guide readers through a continuous moral conversation spanning centuries and continents, from Aristotle in ancient Athens to twentieth‐​century philosopher John Rawls in the halls of Harvard.

What’s the best political system? What standards should we use to decide, and why? Arguments for Liberty is a guide to thinking about these questions. It’s also a powerful, nine‐​fold argument for the goodness and importance of human liberty.

About the Editors

Aaron Ross Powell is a Cato Institute research fellow and founder and editor of Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, which presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. He is also co‐​host of’s popular podcast, Free Thoughts. His writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.
Grant Babcock is Associate Editor of Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org and a scholar of political philosophy. He is especially interested in nonviolent action, epistemology of the social sciences, social contract theories and criticisms thereof, and finding libertarian‐​compatible responses to cultural problems.