Libertarian Legal Theory: Property, Conflict, and Society

PP300 — with Stephan Kinsella

Cost: $49   Length: 6 Lectures
Format: Independent Study
Status: Open for enrollment

Course Description

Stephan Kinsella also discusses his plans for this course here.

This course is taught by Stephan Kinsella, a leading libertarian theorist. The class will run for six weeks, from January 31, 2011 until March 11, 2011, and will provide detailed discussions of the foundations of libertarian theory and related topics such as individual rights; justice, punishment and restitution; anarchy and minarchy; contract theory; inalienability; property rights and homesteading; intellectual property; legislation versus common law; legal positivism; Austrian economics and libertarianism; and causation and responsibility. Optional testing will include a multiple-choice mid-term exam and a multiple-choice final exam.

Kinsella is Senior Fellow of the Mises Institute, editor of Libertarian Papers, General Counsel for Applied Optoelectronics, and was formerly an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law.  He has frequently lectured and published on IP law, international law, and the application of libertarian principles to legal topics, including Against Intellectual Property and Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (co-editor, with Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Mises Institute, 2009).

The weekly live video-broadcast lectures will be Mondays at 9pm EST. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.  Live attendance is not required; recordings of all live sessions will be made available to students.

Course Syllabus

Week Title/Contents Notes/reading materials
1 Rights and Law

  • Legal Theory and Austrian Economics
  • Scarcity and Property Rights
    • Rights as property rights
  • The Nature of rights
    • the Is-Ought Problem
    • Argumentation Ethics and Estoppel
    • Universalizability
  • Essence of Libertarianism
    • Self-ownership
    • Homesteading
      • Lockean proviso
      • Labor ownership and mixing
    • Anarcho-libertarianism
2 Rights and Law (cont.)

  • Anarcho-libertarianism (cont.)
  • Justice: Punishment and Restitution
    • The Case of Threats
    • Stalking
    • Spam
    • Torts and Negligence
  • Legal Positivism and Logical Positivism
3 Applications (cont.)

  • Legislation and Law
  • The significance of Roman Law
  • Contract Theory
    • “written” agreements
    • Inalienability
    • Breach of contract
    • Debtor’s Prison
Midterm exam – multiple choice (optional)
4 Causation, Aggression, Responsibility

  • Conspiracies and Incitement
  • Strict Liability. Responsibility for Property.
  • “Limitations” on property versus limitations on action
5 Intellectual Property and Related

  • Overview of types of IP
  • Origins of IP
  • The nature of property rights, role of scarcity, and the function of the market.
  • Pro-IP arguments: utilitarian and deontological
  • Defamation
  • Free Speech and Property Rights (Rothbard)
  • Proposed Reforms
  • Imagining a post-IP world
6 Applications (cont.)

  • Defense of corporations
  • Common libertarian mistakes
    • Self-ownership
    • Positive obligations
    • Fraud
Final exam  – multiple choice (optional)

Course Completion Details

Students who take the course for a grade (which is optional) will receive a “certificate of completion”.  The Mises Academy currently is not accredited and does not offer degrees.  However, for Stateless University students, this course can fulfill the ATP 102 requirement.  This course is also worth 3 credits in the Mises Academy’s own internal tracking system.  Students are welcome to petition other organizations to accept Mises Academy credits.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee.

If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund.

No refunds will be granted following the second week.


Stephan Kinsella

Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Founder and Editor of Libertarian Papers, Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom (C4SIF), and General Counsel for Applied Optoelectronics, Inc.

A registered patent attorney and former adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law, he has published numerous articles and books on IP law, international law, and the application of libertarian principles to legal topics, including Against Intellectual Property and Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (co-editor, with Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Mises Institute, 2009).

He received an LL.M. in international business law from King’s College London, a JD from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU, and BSEE and MSEE degrees from LSU.

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