About the Course
Dr. Robert Murphy remarks:
Just about everyone is drawn to the libertarian respect for property rights. Yet most people draw back from fully embracing property rights, and taking libertarianism to its fulfillment in “anarcho-capitalism” or free-market anarchy. “Sure,” the cynics say, “it would be great to live in a society without the government and taxes, but who would write the laws? Who would protect it from foreign invasion?”
The course provides detailed answers to these and other questions, and after the course you will realize that the Founders who called government a “necessary evil” were only half right.
Lecture topics include:
- Private Law I
- Private Law II
- Private Defense
- Common Objections
- Historical Applications
- How We Get There
The first three lectures sketch an outline of how a truly free society—with no agency holding the power to tax or monopolize any type of service—could codify and defend property rights, and how it could defend itself from foreign conquest. Naturally, no one ca say exactly what a free society would look like—libertarians don’t have the hubris of central planners. Even so, the way in which market forces would generally lead to a much more peaceful and prosperous society is examined.
The fourth lecture deals with common objections to the mechanisms described earlier, including: “Wouldn’t the mafia take over?” “The biggest defense agency would turn into a de facto State!” “Why couldn’t a convict appeal his case indefinitely?” and so on.
The fifth lecture covers several historical episodes that illustrate the power of voluntary communities to solve conflicts in a relatively peaceful manner. Students will see that not just in theory, but in practice, that you can’t help a group of people by anointing a small fraction of them “the authorities” who get all the guns and make all the rules.
Lastly, the sixth lecture tackles what may be the toughest challenge of all: After seeing the elegance and feasibility of a society with no institutionalized coercion, people want to know, “How can we make this a reality?” This lecture relies on insights from Étienne de la Boétie, Murray Rothbard, and even Gandhi to explore the various possibilities
The vision of a truly free society in which no one could legally violate the property rights of anyone is one of the most exciting topics in libertarian analysis. Check out my essay “But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?” for a quick taste of the issues involved.
All readings for this course are free, available online, and provided to students in a fully-hyperlinked syllabus.
Independent study courses are courses that were presented live in the past. These courses are now offered at a discount to anyone who wants to study independently. All courses include lecture recordings, slides, a complete hyper-linked syllabus, automatically-graded quizzes, and a discussion forum. Professors are not available for academic support for these independent study courses.