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Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice Hardcover – July 16, 2009
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From the Publisher
"Tom Palmer has the ability to make the complex understandable and to go to the heart of the most difficult problems. He is a valuable resource for journalists and others in search of historical and economic scholarship and philosophical insight, especially about the impact of government intervention and the reasons for respecting the freedom and responsibility of individuals."
"Much of this book is devoted to lively defenses of classical liberal and libertarian rights theory against critics and false friends of many sorts. Even more interesting than these sharp rejoinders, though, is Palmer's reframing and recharacterization of that rights theory. Drawing on his extraordinary interdisciplinary learning, Palmer offers a sociologically, institutionally, and historically informed libertarianism--one that is true to the rich legacy and tradition of classical liberalism."
—JACOB T. LEVY
Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, McGill University; author, The Multiculturalism of Fear
"Tom Palmer has been one of liberty's most eloquent and learned spokespersons for many years. It is a joy to have so many of his lucid, readable, and trenchant essays, written over most of those years, between one set of covers. The essays are independent of each other, enough so that you can sit down and read one here, one there, without needing to know also the hundred or two hundred pages in between. Whatever sort of essay you pick, I guarantee you a good read."
University of Waterloo; author, You and the State: A Short Introduction to Political Philosophy and The Libertarian Idea
"Tom Palmer has been long involved in fighting the battle of ideas; in confronting collectivism, extensive government intervention, and the suppression of human freedom and economic prosperity. This book should be read by all who care about freedom. It is important to remind each generation that freedom can never be taken for granted. Collectivist, anti-libertarian ideologies did not cease to exist at the moment the Iron Curtain fell."
President of the Czech Republic
From the Back Cover
--Richard A. Epstein
James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago; author of Simple Rules for a Complex World.
Top Customer Reviews
Readers with a general interest in political theory, economics or history will enjoy essays like "Twenty Myths about Markets," in which the author considers and answers common ethical and economic critiques of market economies. Another piece, "Why Socialism Collapsed in Eastern Europe," reflects on socialism's failed promises and its profound effect on the political culture of that region. The serious student of political philosophy ought to read "No Exit: Framing the Problem of Justice," wherein Palmer conducts a serious and rigorous analysis of John Rawls' theory and draws attention to some of its potentially illiberal implications.
Those more steeped in libertarian or classical liberal thought may appreciate "What's Not Wrong with Libertarianism," in which Palmer discusses the relationship between a theory of rights and the importance of evaluating consequences. While some critics charge that it is contradictory to promote a theory of natural rights and then employ empirical evidence to support those rights claims, Palmer deftly makes the case for compatibility and highlights the poor assumptions of such criticism. In an included book review, Palmer assesses an attempt to hijack the term "libertarian" by a proponent of "radically egalitarian redistribution." This book review, titled "John Locke Lite," illustrates Palmer's ability to communicate complicated theory clearly and convincingly.Read more ›
Liberty is a difficult subject these days because a majority of Americans seem to confuse it with either personal license or laissez faire economics. The Libertarian political party is certainly related to liberty, but is not the same thing. Finally, the term liberal, which originally denoted a resistance to special legal privilege, has come to be associated with an element of the Democratic Party that called itself Progressive when it originated in the Republican Party with Teddy Roosevelt, and which might now more accurately be described as communitarian. (We are all in this together. We must decide by majority vote how to live, with government as the coercive mechanism) Those of us who consider ourselves friends of liberty are reduced to calling ourselves Classical Liberals if we don’t wish to identify with all the aspects of the Libertarian, or any other, Party.
The first point to make is that liberty is not based on imagined isolated individuals. Its modern version began in the nascent free cities of Medieval Europe where the merchants and artisans created well documented (not merely hypothetical) social contracts regulating their relationships with each other and with their rulers, usually kings. Their, and our, liberty is an intensely social relationship of mutual tolerance and respect. It is the “mutual enjoyment of equal freedom” dependent on a respect for strong law to prevent violence of one upon another.Read more ›
The first task of explaining the meaning of freedom and defending it from common criticisms, is what most people will take away from the book and is one of its very clear purposes. Palmer clearly lays out just what the concept of freedom entails in all of its aspects from the structure of the book, anticipating many questions that readers would normally have. What's more, Palmer takes on some of the most difficult problems facing the philosophy of freedom and answers them head on from everything such as the Marxist conception of class conflict and the dominance of Rawlsian political theory today.
The second accomplishment of the book may be an indirect effort on Palmer's part, or at least something that seems to be pushed toward the end, but Palmer offers the reader a clear conception of how to realize freedom in our lifetime. Instead of relegating his work to the intellectual debates of what liberty would be in a hypothetical world, he presents freedom as something that we should and could see if properly defended and promoted in the real world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Still reading - review to follow, but Libertarian Policy/Party is the only logical way to livePublished 14 months ago by Roger - Goodyear, AZ
Tom Palmer brings us a masterpiece of Libertarian philosophy full of genuine insights, analysis, and anecdotes to consider, one chapter at a time. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jose A. Tovar
This is the best book about libertarianism that I have read as of yet. My only word of caution is that it is very scholarly, with many footnotes, and may not be for the layman. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jeffrey Newholm
You can read it straight through or select sections. Great for an overview or for a refresher on more specifics. Should be required text to balance opinion that is out there. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by Trent Goldsmith
I am always looking to learn more about the ideas of liberty and thought this book would continue my knowledge, and it has. Read morePublished on May 28, 2014 by Otis
Tom Palmer's basic thrust is that the intellectual foundations of the American Republic (as well as other efforts at limited government such as the Roman Republic and the Magna... Read morePublished on September 4, 2012 by William Whipple III
Cannot say enough good about this book. What's especially valuable in it is all the historical references and the clear delineation of the roots of classical liberal, libertarian... Read morePublished on March 25, 2011 by Tibor Machan
Dr. Palmer's book is a great account of libertarianism. The collection of essays on a wide variety of topics, show the author's profound knowledge of the many issues libertarian... Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Nicolas Bas
Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice will be an outstanding addition to every scholar of liberty's list of classical texts. Read morePublished on December 14, 2009 by Alex Korbel