Virtual Reading Groups

computer-keyboard-atop-which-a-pair-of-reading-glasses-725x482SFL Virtual Reading Groups give participants the opportunity to explore a set of readings on the intellectual underpinnings of a free society with an instructor who has expertise in the field and a group of similarly interested and qualified individuals from around the world. By creating a space for active discussion with other intellectually engaged individuals, led by capable and informed discussion leaders, VRGs give participants a chance to achieve unusual depth and perspective on the classical liberal tradition that could not be achieved through solitary study. VRGs are open to all individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of the philosophical ideas of liberty. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with other philosophically inclined participants, apply today!

Organize a Virtual Reading Group

Interested in hosting your own Virtual Reading Group on a topic of your choosing? Submit an application for support from SFL staff! Students that host a Virtual Reading Group will determine the topic, help identify a professor that will build a syllabus and lead the overall discussion, and will organize the virtual weekly meetings.

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Past Reading Groups

War, Security, and Liberty

Issues of national security and intervention have always been a source of tension and disagreement among classical liberals and libertarians. This reading group will explore a variety of issues related to war, security, and liberty from an economic perspective. The topics covered will include: common justifications for state-provided security, the political economy of foreign intervention, the origins of the permanent war economy in the United States, the perverse incentives created by the military contracting process, and the negative effects of foreign intervention on the liberties and freedoms of U.S. citizens.

  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Chris Coyne, Department of Economics, George Mason University


Black Studies and Classical Liberalism

This reading group will look at the intersection of Black Studies and classical liberalism. Join Dr. Fabio Rojas to explore the following questions: what is Black Studies? Where did the field come from? How can we understand the various struggles for Black freedom? How does that relate to classical liberal ideas about freedom? Learn about these topics and more as we discuss the abolition of slavery, civil rights, black power and mass incarceration.

  • Discussion Leader: Dr.Fabio Rojas, Department of Sociology, Indiana University


The Socialist Calculation Debate

This reading group will explore the socialist calculation debate. Readings will be available online and include work by Ludwig von Mises, Frederich Hayek, Don Lavoie, Frederich Engels, Oskar Lange, and others. This reading group is for students who have some experience in economics, and are interested in the long running theoretical debate concerning the viability of centrally planned economies. We will explore classic texts in this debate which remains of critical importance today as socialism remains a hotly contested topic.

  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Steve Horwitz, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University


The Moral Foundations of Libertarianism 

This reading group will be led by philosopher Roderick Long and discuss the various justifications for libertarianism. From Rothbard’s natural rights to Ayn Rand’s rational egoism to Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics, the philosophy of liberty is a deep, robust tradition of ideas. Join Professor Long to untangle these arguments and learn all the reasons why liberty is worthwhile.


Libertarianism and Feminism

This reading group will be led by libertarian feminists Rachel Davison and Charles Johnson. Are libertarianism and feminism compatible? How have the two ideologies interacted historically? What would a truly libertarian feminist look like? Join Rachel and Charles to learn what feminism can tell us about liberty.

  • Discussion Leader: Rachel Davison, Co-founder of the Libertia Society
  • Discussion Leader: Charles Johnson, Senior Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society


The Work of Don Lavoie

This reading group will be led by economist and student of Don Lavoie, Steve Horwitz. Don Lavoie earned his PhD in economics from NYU in 1981 for his thesis Rivalry and Central Planning: A Re-examination of the Debate over Economics Calculation under Socialism and is an enormous influence on the modern Austrian School of Economics. Author of numerous articles, essays, and books, Lavoie’s work focuses on competitive rivalry in the market system, the nature and function of prices, and the role of culture in economic development. Join Professor Horwitz to gain a better understanding of this monumental thinker.

  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Steve Horwitz, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University


The Case for Open Borders

Immigration and the moral status of national borders have historically divided many liberty-oriented thinkers and remains a hot-button issue among the libertarian minded. An issue this complex can be approached from a variety of different analytical lenses. Libertarian thinkers have studied borders from a wide array of ethical, economic, sociological, and political viewpoints over the years, yet a widespread consensus on the their role, if they have one, has yet to be realized in the community. The debates about the moral status of national borders, the economic effects of immigration, the way in which immigration affects culture, and the political consequences of immigration policy have roused freedom lovers’ intellects, imaginations, and hunger for debate for decades. But the time has come for a consistent, reasonable, and libertarian approach to borders. Put simply, borders are a contentious, complex issue and libertarians are in a perfect situation to provide a consistent, principled solution. Leading this riveting discussion is economist Bryan Caplan, who will be helping us explore the ins and outs of the border debate from moral, economic, cultural, and political viewpoints. What is the solution to the immigration problem? Open the borders!

  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Bryan Caplan, Department of Economics, George Mason University


The Origins of Radical Libertarianism in America

Participants will read selected debates from Benjamin Tucker’s periodical, Liberty and will analyze them from both a historical and philosophical perspective to understand the context in which libertarianism was born and to see whether the arguments made by these early libertarians stand up to critical scrutiny.

  • Discussion Leader: Matt Zwolinski, Department of Philosophy, University of San Diego


The Past & Future of the Libertarian Left

This reading group will be led by Charles Johnson and will focus on his anthology, Markets Not Capitalismand a variety of other readings regarding left-libertarianism, individualist anarchism, and free market anti-capitalism.

  • Discussion Leader: Charles Johnson, Senior Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society


Beyond Orthodoxy: Understanding Rothbard

This reading group will focus on Rothbard’s text, “The Ethics of Liberty” and a variety of other readings in Murray Rothbard’s formidable body of work. For the first half of this reading group, Dr. Kevin Vallier will lead the reading group in a critical treatment of Rothbard’s work and in the latter half of the reading group, Dr. Roderick Long will defend his work from common criticisms.

  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Kevin Vallier, Department of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University
  • Discussion Leader: Dr. Roderick Long, Department of Philosophy, Auburn University


Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford

This reading group will dive into a literary adventure set in the late 1950s Soviet Union. Dr. Sarah Skwire will lead a discussion on the novel Red Plenty, highlighting the struggle of implementing a planned economy.


Discovery of Freedom, by Rose Wilder Lane

Ever heard of Rose Wilder Lane?  Did you know that she was one of three “founding mothers” of American libertarianism? This reading group will explore Rose Wilder Lane’s Discovery to Freedom: Man’s Struggle Against Authority, and will be lead by the captivating Jeffrey Tucker!