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Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know
     

Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

by Jason Brennan
 

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Historically, Americans have seen libertarians as far outside the mainstream, but with the rise of the Tea Party movement, libertarian principles have risen to the forefront of Republican politics. But libertarianism is more than the philosophy of individual freedom and unfettered markets that Republicans have embraced. Indeed, as Jason Brennan points out,

Overview


Historically, Americans have seen libertarians as far outside the mainstream, but with the rise of the Tea Party movement, libertarian principles have risen to the forefront of Republican politics. But libertarianism is more than the philosophy of individual freedom and unfettered markets that Republicans have embraced. Indeed, as Jason Brennan points out, libertarianism is a quite different--and far richer--system of thought than most of us suspect.

In this timely new entry in Oxford's acclaimed series What Everyone Needs to Know®, Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the Value of Liberty, Human Nature and Ethics, Economic Liberty, Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Poor, Government and Democracy, and Contemporary Politics. Brennan asks the most fundamental and challenging questions: What do Libertarians think liberty is? Do libertarians think everyone should be selfish? Are libertarians just out to protect the interests of big business? What do libertarians think we should do about racial injustice? What would libertarians do about pollution? Are Tea Party activists true libertarians? As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Libertarians believe that the rich always capture political power; they want to minimize the power available to them in order to protect the weak. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor.

Clear, concise, and incisively written, this volume explains a vitally important philosophy in American history--and a potent force in contemporary politics.

What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freedom to live your life as you see fit does not seem like a controversial political stance at first, or even a political stance at all, until it is applied to civil rights, economic freedoms, and social justice. Application of this basic tenet of libertarianism is what Brennan (A Brief History of Liberty) aims to do here, beginning with an explanation of the political philosophy itself- an umbrella term for several ideologies constructed from the premise that each individual is a sovereign entity-then systematically describes what would reasonably follow when the ideas are consistently applied to politics or life. In Brennan's formulation libertarianism is a legitimate political alternative to the prevailing American two-party system: surprising to left, right and center alike. Libertarianism isn't a radical philosophy with outlying political proposals; at times its stances align with liberals, on expansion of human rights and civil liberties, and at times with conservatives, on promoting small businesses. Brennan structures his book as a series of plausible queries and hypothetical scenarios, but his attempts to counter criticisms read more as evasions or appeals to abstractions. Instead of being able to pick this up and read clean, concise answers, readers will be left with more unanswerable questions.
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From the Publisher

"Brennan, ethics and economics scholar, offers a very clear and concise explanation of libertarianism, its historical roots, and its increasing relevance to contemporary politics...A fascinating primer on a philosophy that is gaining attention." -Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199933914
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/15/2012
Series:
What Everyone Needs to Know Series
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
349,718
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Jason Brennan is Assistant Professor of Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is the author of The Ethics of Voting and co-author of A Brief History of Liberty. He also writes for the popular blog Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

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