Libertarianism, from A to Z

By Skoble, Aeon J. | Freeman, January/February 2012 | Go to article overview

Libertarianism, from A to Z


Skoble, Aeon J., Freeman


Libertarianism, from A to Z by Jeffrey A. Miron Basic Books * 2010/2011 * 198 pages $24.95 hardcover; $15.99 paperback

Reviewed by Aeon J. Skoble

Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron's primer on libertarian thought proceeds just as the title indicates: a collection of alphabetically arranged short essays on 105 topics. This is a more effective technique than one might imagine: Since many people unfamiliar with libertarianism approach it by way of specific questions and challenges, Miron provides answers.

Readers of The Freeman will be familiar with this experience: How would libertarianism handle drunk driving? (That's under "D.") What do libertarians think about organ sales? (Under "O.") What do you mean by "unintended consequences"? (Look under "U") The entries are not at all superficial, though; they are well thought out and carefully reasoned discussions of the topics. Just as important, they are well written: Since Miron's intention here is to communicate the good sense of these ideas, it really makes a difference that he can write clear and effective prose. And he goes beyond surface-level questions (such as minimum wage) to tackle more complicated issues like Pareto efficiency, fiat money, and abortion. Miron also includes entries on how libertarianism differs from conservatism and (modern American) liberalism, and how consequentialist approaches differ from rightsbased approaches.

Another asset of this book is the way Miron uses some of the basic concepts of economics in ways that are not only accessible to the non-economist but also show how the "economic way of thinking" applies to a variety of problems that the average reader might not think of as economic. For example, in the entry on protection of endangered species, Miron appeals to the concept of incentives. Although this solution is counterintuitive, assigning private property rights in endangered species or their habitats will create better incentives for good stewardship. There are many examples in Africa of the success of this approach, so Miron is able to supplement the theoretical explanation of why this works with empirical evidence. He contrasts this effectively with statist approaches by showing how these end up being counterproductive. Worse than being ineffective, these policies can create incentives for behavior that is the opposite of what is intended. It's important that Miron can show this. Since a book like this has its chief value in outreach, it needs to provide answers to these sorts of questions from people who might not be predisposed to classical liberalism or the economic way of thinking. When he does appeal to precise notions like externalities or moral hazard, the reader is directed to entries on those.

Another feature I found compelling is the way Miron acknowledges the reality of moral disagreement where relevant, while nevertheless directing the reader to think in terms of policies that might make a positive change. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Libertarianism, from A to Z
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.