Principles for a Free Society

The need for a principled reconciliation between the prerogatives of individual liberty and social order has been a central preoccupation of classical liberal philosophy. In this CIS Occasional Paper, Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago, one of the foremost contemporary exponents of classical liberalism, discusses this crucial issue. Professor Epstein argues for the importance of four simple rules in underpinning the foundations of a free society- individual autonomy, property rights, contract and tort. Professor Epstein also discusses the unavoidable dilemma of a free society under the rule of law- namely the tradeoff between the need to authorise the use of force in order to exact these rules and ensure the adequate provision of public goods; and the need to control the use of force.