Libertarianism is the belief that each person has the right to live his life as he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property. In the libertarian view, voluntary agreement is the gold standard of human relationships. If there is no good reason to forbid something (a good reason being that it violates the rights of others), it should be allowed. Force should be reserved for prohibiting or punishing those who themselves use force, such as murderers, robbers, rapists, kidnappers, and defrauders (who practice a kind of theft). Most people live their own lives by that code of ethics. Libertarians believe that that code should be applied consistently, even to the actions of governments, which should be restricted to protecting people from violations of their rights. Governments should not use their powers to censor speech, conscript the young, prohibit voluntary exchanges, steal or “redistribute” property, or interfere in the lives of individuals who are otherwise minding their own business.

More on Libertarianism


Goodbye, Obama

By Gene Healy. Reason. March 1, 2017.

Why the Worst Now?

By Tom G. Palmer. Liberty Law. February 6, 2017.

Neither Trump nor His Message Is Built to Win a National Election

By Michael D. Tanner. National Review (Online). October 12, 2016.

Cato Studies

Results from the Libertarianism vs. Conservatism Post-Debate Survey

By Emily Ekins. Public Opinion Brief. August 15, 2016.

Options for Federal Privatization and Reform Lessons from Abroad

By Chris Edwards. Policy Analysis No. 794. June 28, 2016.

State Capitalism vs. Private Enterprise

By Donghua Chen, Dequan Jiang, Alexander Ljungqvist, Haitian Lu, & Mingming Zhou. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 28. June 17, 2015.


Hayek and the Scots on Liberty

Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.. The Journal of Private Enterprise. Vol. 30. No. 2. Summer 2015.

On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement

Roger Pilon. Chapman Law Review. Vol. 16. No. 2. 2013.


Roger Pilon. American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. 2011.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Working Papers

Peter Van Doren. Regulation. Spring 2017.

Power to the Knowers!

Pierre Lemieux. Regulation. Spring 2017.

Tyler Cowen, Semi-Persuasive Futurist

David R. Henderson. Regulation. Spring 2017.


Cato University: College of History and Philosophy

Featuring Robert McDonald, Dr. Steve Davies, and Tom G. Palmer. October 26, 2017 to October 28, 2017. Cato University.

Cato University: College of Economics

Featuring Jeffrey Miron, Lynne Kiesling, Daniel J. Ikenson, & Tom G. Palmer. July 27, 2017 to July 29, 2017. Cato University.

Cato Institute 40th Anniversary Celebration

Featuring David Boaz, Michael F. Cannon, Ian Vásquez, Tom G. Palmer, Michael D. Tanner, Emily Ekins, Peter Goettler, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Mike Lee, Andy Stern, Alex Nowrasteh, Christopher A. Preble, Dalibor Rohac, Chris Edwards, Dave Barry, Jacob T. Levy, Charles Murray, Nicholas Eberstadt, David R. Henderson, Jonathan H. Adler, Ilya Shapiro, Roger Pilon, Timothy Sandefur, Brink Lindsey, George F. Will, Hon. Mick Mulvaney, Robert A. Levy, & P.J. O'Rourke. May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2017. Special Event.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Five Types of Spending

By Chris Edwards. March 2014.