Liberty Fund Conferences

Exploring the Foundations of a Free Society

Liberty-Fund-300x225Starting in 2011, Students For Liberty partnered with the Liberty Fund Inc. to host a new project for students with a passion for developing their intellectual understanding of liberty – The Students For Liberty & Liberty Fund Conferences: Exploring the Foundations of a Free Society.

Founded in 1960 by Indianapolis businessman and lawyer Pierre F. Goodrich, The Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.  Their logo, the Amagi, is the earliest-known written appearance of the word “freedom.” Applications to these events are very competitive.  The ideal candidate is eager to contribute to a lively intellectual discussion on the topic at hand.  Each attendee will be required to complete a set of readings leading up to the conference (readings provided by SFL).  Participation in the entire conference is mandatory, so do not apply unless you can attend all sessions. Housing, meals, and materials for all Liberty Fund events will be provided by SFL.  We will offer a limited number of travel scholarships to help students who could not otherwise attend the conference. If you are a student who requires travel costs to be covered in order to attend the conference, please opt-in on the application below.

Past Conferences

 

Liberty and Responsibility in the Thought of Frédéric Bastiat
Frédéric Bastiat has long been regarded as one of the most articulate and persuasive proponents of classical liberalism. In nineteenth-century France, his journalistic influence was pivotal in debunking myths regarding political economy. His ingenious examples and clear writing continue to lead many to see the world in a new way, and to provide a powerful introduction to classical liberal ideas. The purpose of this conference is to offer an opportunity to explore a wide selection of Bastiat’s writings on economics, politics, and philosophy.
  • When:  November 11th -13th, 2016
  • Where: San Francisco, California
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. David Hart, Director of Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Liberty
  • Application Deadline: October 14th, 2016

Economics From Smith to Friedman
The goal of this conference is to introduce participants to classic authors and key concepts in free market economics. The intention is to go beyond basic matters of supply and demand and efficiency concerns to consider the broader social and institutional ramifications of a free market system. Readings are drawn from authors including Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Bastiat, List, von Mises, Schumpeter, Rogge, Hayek, Keynes, Rothbard, and Friedman.

  • When:  April 8-10, 2016, 2016
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Peter Boettke, George Mason University
Liberty and Responsibility in the Thought of Frédéric Bastiat
Frédéric Bastiat has long been regarded as one of the most articulate and persuasive proponents of classical liberalism. In nineteenth-century France, his journalistic influence was pivotal in debunking myths regarding political economy. His ingenious examples and clear writing continue to lead many to see the world in a new way, and to provide a powerful introduction to classical liberal ideas. The purpose of this conference is to offer an opportunity to explore a wide selection of Bastiat’s writings on economics, politics, and philosophy.
  • When:  April 8-10, 2016, 2016
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Peter Jaworski, Georgetown University
Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments provides an explanation of how moral norms are unintentionally created and developed as the joint product of certain innate features of human nature and certain facts about human life. The model Smith provides for understanding morality is a plausible account of what Hayek would later call “spontaneous order”. Smith’s psychological perspective also anticipated many of the key ideas of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral economics. This Liberty Fund discussion session will focus on some of the main themes of Theory of Moral Sentiments: What role does sympathy play in Smith’s thought? How do we reconcile the emphasis on sympathy in Theory of Moral Sentiments with the emphasis on self-interest in The Wealth of Nations? What role does ambition play in human life? What is the source of the general rules of morality?
  • When:  February 26th, 2016
  • Where: International Students For Liberty Conference (ISFLC) – Washington, DC
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Pat Lynch, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc.
Liberty, Property, and Government
This conference covers many of the central principles and debates of the classical liberal tradition. Topics covered include Human Nature and Spontaneous Order, Individual Freedom, Property Rights, Liberty and the Principles of Government, Federalism and the Separation of Powers, and War and the Challenges of Foreign Policy. Readings are drawn from James Buchanan, Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, John Locke, the Federalist Papers, J. S. Mill, and Thomas Sowell, among others.
  • When:  November 20-22, 2015
  • Where: Los Angeles, California
  • Discussion Leader: Professor Tom W. Bell, Fowler School of Law at Chapman University
Liberty, Legitimacy, and Property in Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”
Published in 1974, Anarchy, State, and Utopia remains the best known and most influential defense of classical liberalism. This conference will explore many of the themes addressed in the book such as individual natural rights, a conception of social and economic order as emergent and spontaneous rather than designed and commanded, and an understanding of economic justice as the product of voluntary, free market interactions.
Hayek and Keynes on Human Nature and Liberty
Friedrich A. Hayek and John Maynard Keynes were two of the most influential figures in twentieth-century economics. Their theories were often in direct conflict with one another, however. At the core of their differences was a relatively simple question: does the market self-correct or should the state intervene in the market to correct imbalances? This question touches at the heart of liberty and the ability of individuals to engage in free exchange without state interference. Keynes contended that greater levels of government intervention were necessary to protect against fluctuations in the business cycle. In contrast, Hayek argued that government intervention in the economy would introduce damaging, and potentially long-lasting, distortions. This conference will allow undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Students for Liberty to compare the general theories behind Hayek and Keynes’s debates about macro-economics.
Liberty, Property, and Government
The purpose of this conference is to provide an audience of undergraduate students a first approximation to some central principles and debates of the classical liberal tradition.
  • When:  August 8-10, 2014
  • Where: Arlington, VA
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Michael C. Munger, Duke University
Hayek and Keynes on Human Nature and Liberty
This conference will allow undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Students for Liberty to compare the general theories behind Hayek and Keynes’s debates about macro-economics and the role of government in the economy.
  • When:  March 21-23, 2014
  • Where: Arlington, VA
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Bruce J. Caldwell, Duke University
Liberty, Legitimacy, and Property in Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”
Published in 1974, Anarchy, State, and Utopia remains the best known and most influential defense of classical liberalism. This conference will explore many of themes addressed in the book such as individual natural rights, a conception of social and economic order as emergent and spontaneous rather than designed and commanded, and an understanding of economic justice as the product of voluntary, free market interactions.
Institutions of Liberty
This conference addresses the relationship between freedom, markets, and culture in both a narrow and broad sense. While competitive markets lead to wealthier societies with superior opportunities for individuals to employ their talents and labor, questions remain for many regarding the proper cultural and moral underpinnings of markets. Criticisms are frequently leveled against markets that they undermine familial and cultural stability by promotion of a ubiquitous individualism unmoored from any tradition or larger social order. One focus of this conference will be to evaluate these criticisms through an examination of the basis and operation of free markets and the factors (moral, cultural, religious, or otherwise) that are necessary to sustain them.
  • When:  August 2-4, 2013
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Professor John Tomasi, Brown University
Public Choice and Government Failure
This conference will examine the evolution and main arguments of the public choice school. The readings will focus on why government does not work nearly as well as its supporters argue, why it continues to grow, and how we can think more critically about what specific roles government should or should not play in society. Conference readings will include extensive selections from Liberty Fund’s The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan.
  • When:  March 29-31, 2013
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Tawni Ferrarini, Northern Michigan University
Hayek and Keynes on Human Nature and Liberty
Friedrich A. Hayek and John Maynard Keynes were two of the most influential figures in twentieth-century economics. Their theories were often in direct conflict with one another, however. At the core of their differences was a relatively simple question: does the market self-correct or should the state intervene in the market to correct imbalances? This question touches at the heart of liberty and the ability of individuals to engage in free exchange without state interference. Keynes contended that greater levels of government intervention were necessary to protect against fluctuations in the business cycle. In contrast, Hayek argued that government intervention in the economy would introduce damaging, and potentially long-lasting, distortions. This conference will allow undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Students for Liberty to compare the general theories behind Hayek and Keynes’s debates about macro-economics.
Institutions of Liberty
This conference addresses the relationship between freedom, markets, and culture in both a narrow and broad sense. While competitive markets lead to wealthier societies with superior opportunities for individuals to employ their talents and labor, questions remain for many regarding the proper cultural and moral underpinnings of markets. Criticisms are frequently leveled against markets that they undermine familial and cultural stability by promotion of a ubiquitous individualism unmoored from any tradition or larger social order. One focus of this conference will be to evaluate these criticisms through an examination of the basis and operation of free markets and the factors (moral, cultural, religious, or otherwise) that are necessary to sustain them.
  • When:  August 3-5, 2012
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. David Schmidtz, University of Arizona
Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke on the French Revolution of 1789
The conference will focus on the responses of Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke to the French Revolution of 1789. The participants will additionally consider several of David Hume’s political essays regarding the natural rights arguments of the French Revolutionaries in order to provide a context for the comparison of Paine and Burke’s different responses. The participants will be undergraduate and graduate students, and this conference will give them the opportunity to examine the challenges to the western political and social order presented by the French Revolution as well as the development of modern conservatism as it relates to liberty and government. The readings will include selections from Liberty Fund’s edition of Hume’s Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary and from Liberty Fund’s Selected Works of Edmund Burke.
Hayek and Keynes on Human Nature and Liberty
Friedrich A. Hayek and John Maynard Keynes were two of the most influential figures in twentieth-century economics. Their theories were often in direct conflict with one another, however. At the core of their differences was a relatively simple question: does the market self-correct or should the state intervene in the market to correct imbalances? This question touches at the heart of liberty and the ability of individuals to engage in free exchange without state interference. Keynes contended that greater levels of government intervention were necessary to protect against fluctuations in the business cycle. In contrast, Hayek argued that government intervention in the economy would introduce damaging, and potentially long-lasting, distortions. This conference will allow undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Students for Liberty to compare the general theories behind Hayek and Keynes’s debates about macro-economics.
  • When:  March 9-11, 2012
  • Where: Irvington, New York
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Tawni Ferrarini, Northern Michigan University
Institutions of Liberty
This conference addresses the relationship between freedom, markets, and culture in both a narrow and broad sense. While competitive markets lead to wealthier societies with superior opportunities for individuals to employ their talents and labor, questions remain for many regarding the proper cultural and moral underpinnings of markets. Criticisms are frequently leveled against markets that they undermine familial and cultural stability by promotion of a ubiquitous individualism unmoored from any tradition or larger social order. One focus of this conference will be to evaluate these criticisms through an examination of the basis and operation of free markets and the factors (moral, cultural, religious, or otherwise) that are necessary to sustain them.
  • When:  August 5-7, 2011
  • Where: Arlington, Virginia
  • Discussion Leader: Professor John Tomasi, Brown University