The purpose of POLS 456 for Winter 2010 is to examine the most important political theories that champion the free market and permit only a limited role for the state in social and economic life. I have called the course “Libertarianism and Its Critics,” but it could also be a called a course on the philosophical foundations of neo-liberalism, or a course on neo-classical liberalism, or a course on liberalism-in-the-European-sense. The thinkers we will read are not all libertarians, strictly speaking (e.g. Hayek). But, with the exception of the so-called “left-libertarians” we will read at the end of the course, they have all been influential in opposing greater state control and regulation of economic life, and in particular in resisting calls for a more equal distribution of wealth and income.
Core readings for POLS 456 will be the three books by Hayek, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. I will put all of these books on reserve in the library, but you will probably want to buy them. They are easily available from Amazon or Chapters; any edition will do. Most of the rest of the readings will be articles available via library subscription. The main exception is the John Galt speech from Ayn Rand. This will be on reserve, but if you want to buy it you could purchase either Atlas Shrugged or For the New Intellectual, which is a collective of speeches from her novels.