Freedom and Society: Classical Liberalism in the Twentieth Century

A Course with Professor Thomas Patrick Burke

Spring 2007

Towards the close of the twentieth century the free society with free markets came to be accepted increasingly in the political life of nations around the globe as the ideal. This has largely been due to the work of outstanding thinkers who have explained what the free society means and why it is right and good, as well as to its demonstrated success in improving the conditions of human existence. The earlier arguments for Liberalism in its original or classical form were moral, that freedom was a requirement of justice, which was understood in its traditional sense. During the twentieth century, however, morality was largely taken over by the new, socialist idea of “social justice,” but at the same time the science of economics underwent a great development and the main arguments for liberty came to be made by a number of outstanding thinkers who saw the philosophical implications of the new economic discoveries.
In this course we will study some of the writers who have been most influential in securing a hearing for liberalism in its classic sense, including Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, and the philosopher Robert Nozick.