Virtual Reading Groups

SFL Virtual Reading Groups operate like Liberty Fund symposia, in which participants are given a list of readings on the intellectual underpinnings of a free society and are then given the opportunity to share their own thoughts on the readings with each other. By creating a space for active discussion with other intellectually engaged students, led by capable and informed discussion leaders, VRGs give participants a unique chance to truly delve into a text in ways they might not have been able to on their own.

Apply below by Friday, February 20th.


“The Origins of Radical Libertarianism in America”

Discussion led by Matt Zwolinksi

Meeting dates and times will be determined based on when the most applicants are available.

liberty-tuckerMany of the most important debates among contemporary libertarians are mirror images of debates originally held over one hundred year ago. Can a minimal state be justified on libertarian grounds, or is anarchism the only consistent libertarian position? Are natural rights the proper foundation for a moral theory? Do children have rights? Are intellectual property rights justifiable? What is the best strategy for making progress toward a free society? All of these questions were taken up by American libertarians in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially in the pages of Benjamin Tucker’s periodical, Liberty. In this course, we will read a selection of these debates. Part of our goal in doing so will be historical in nature – to understand the origins of libertarian thought in America, its intellectual context, and its significance for later libertarian thought. But another part of our goal is purely philosophical - to see whether the arguments made by these early libertarians stand up to critical scrutiny, and whether the positions at which they ended up are ones with which we have good reason to agree.

Matt Zwolinski is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and co-director of USD’s Institute for Law and Philosophy. He is the editor of Arguing About Political Philosophy (2nd edition forthcoming with Routledge in 2014), the founder of the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog, and author (with John Tomasi) of A Brief History of Libertarianism (forthcoming with Princeton University Press in 2014), along with numerous papers on various theoretical and practical issues of exploitation.

We are looking for 15-20 highly motivated, interested students who will be given the opportunity to share their thoughts with each other, SFL leaders, and Dr. Zwolinski. Apply by Friday, February 20th!

If you have any questions, please contact John Breeden at jbreeden@studentsforliberty.org.

Click here to apply!