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50% off sale at OUP

And free shipping over $150. See here. Use promotion code HOLIDAYSALE15 at checkout.

I mean, if I were a faithful BHL reader, I might go on a shopping spree that included:

Jonathan Anomaly, Geoffrey Brennan, Michael C. Munger, eds., Politics, Philosophy, and Economics: An Anthology

Jason Brennan, Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know<

This shameless self-promoter, Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom (now just $25! And you want to have read it before the big BHL symposium on it in January…)

This guy again, The Multiculturalism of Fear

Branching beyond the blog a bit, there’s also Person, Polis, Planet by honorary BHL team captain David Schmidtz, and The Liberal Archipelago, a very important account of liberal theory that has influenced many of us here, by Chandran Kukathas. Joseph Carens’ The Ethics of Immigration, one of the best books in recent political philosophy and theory, is also the leading work on what I consider perhaps the most important (for human well-being and freedom) area of convergence between market liberals and egalitarian liberals, open borders and free migration.

Branching out a little farther still, to a number of my favorite books from OUP from recent years, several of which I’ve repeatedly cited here on the blog or elsewhere, and with some notes about why BHL readers might be interested. (I make no claim that these are completely impartial recommendations, but they’re all very genuine.)

Jeremy Jennings’ magisterial intellectual history of French political thought, Revolution and the Republic. Nineteenth-century French liberal thinkers– Benjamin Constant, Alexis de Tocqueville, Destutt de Tracy, Frederic Bastiat, the laissez-faire ideologues, and more– are of special interest to those with a stake in classical liberalism. Indeed they were the first avowed liberals, under that name; and Constant in particular offered arguably the most successful complete classical liberal political theory, combining free markets and trade with freedom of speech and religion, with representative constitutional democracy and party-responsible parliamentarism, with the rule of law and liberal procedural safeguards before the judiciary, with analyses of the power of the police and the military, and more. To understand the context of the emergence, development, and ultimate political failure of French liberalism, this is the book to read. (Note: It’s also pricey, so the 50% off makes a big difference.)

Jennifer Rubenstein, Between Samaritans And States: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs, an outstanding exercise in non-ideal theory that treats international NGOs as organizations (not just transparent pass-through mechanisms through which rich-country donors fulfill their distributive goals) and as political actors (both in donor and in recipient countries) that face genuine hard ethical decisions of their own, similar in kind but far from identical to those faced by states and state actors. BHL-interested folks would have good reason to study it to think more clearly about poverty-alleviation and (for those who talk this way) social justice-promotion undertaken by non-state actors: what is distinctive about the ethical and organizational landscape in which they operate?

Victor Muñiz-Fraticelli, The Structure of Pluralism, the first serious (and, I think, successful) effort to give a coherent legal theory to the anti-absolutist account of freedom of association and institutional pluralism given by the British pluralists such as Maitland and Figgis. Many libertarians have interests in both associational-freedom models of freedom of religion and in legal pluralism or polycentric law. This book shows that we need to be thinking about them both together, that we should be learning from Figgis and Maitland when we do, and what problems they left unresolved; and then makes real progress at resolving them.

Evan Fox-Decent, Sovereignty’s Promise: The State As Fiduciary. Some of you have heard or read my regular rants against social contract theory as a foundation for liberalism. I have a much harder time rejecting theories that put relations of legal trust (in the sense of trusteeship with fiduciary duties) rather than legal relations of contract at their center; and I think that the most plausible reconstructions of the arguments of the early modern contractarians depend on trust and fiduciary relations. This book is the leading exposition and defense of a fiduciary theory, rich with discussions of property ownership, duties and limits of obedience, and more of the kinds of things of central inteerest to libertarians and Lockeans. The author is neither, but I know many readers of this blog are one or both.

Chris Lebron, The Color of Our Shame. I’ve repeatedly argued around here that a critical reason for travelling the bleeding-heart libertarian path is because an analysis of how the really-existing state can be the enemy of equality and social justice helps us understand pressing problems of structural racial injustice in America– and that a challenge and duty facing bleeding-heart libertarians is to confront the ways that libertarian ideas and rhetoric in American political life have often been used in defense of white supremacy and racial tyranny. Lebron’s powerful theoretical account of structural racial injustice, and of what it means to respond to it, has been a real help to me in thinking about these problems, and I recommend it as a text to grapple with to others who are similarly interested.

Leigh Jenco, Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West. I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I’ve read a number of articles that led up to it, and anything by Jenco falls into that category Tyler Cowen refers to as “self-recommending.” So-called “comparative political theory,” which often just means “westerners reading some non-western political theory,” is widely agreed to be one of the most important directions for political theory in the next generation. Jenco is one of its most important practitioners, and a sharp critic of that way of doing it. This is her book arguing for a better way of doing it– and trying to show that it’s better by actually doing it.

  • M Lister

    Thanks for noting this, Jacob. There are some good suggestions here. For those interested, I review Fox-Decent’s book in _Ethics_ some time ago. (Oct. 2014 issue) (Nickle summary: an interesting book, good account of admin law, too ambitious in trying to work out an account of the rule of law and human rights from his fiduciary account, not clear that the account really applies as well as he suggests outside of Canada.) Those interested can probably see a copy here.

    I haven’t read all of Muñiz-Fraticelli’s book yet, but read some of the “preliminary study” papers, as well as some of his other work. He’s a very good scholar, so I suspect that work is a good one.

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