Now in its fourth year, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives’ Workshop on Political Economy brings together scholars from across the globe to study the history of economic thought using the archives of such notable thinkers as Karl Popper, Milton Friedman, and F.A. Hayek. This year the workshop welcomed Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (2015), who presented a keynote address on June 28th.
The Hoover Institution hosted the Board of Overseers’ Summer Meeting on July 12–14, 2011.
On Tuesday evening, Hoover fellows discussed topics relating to defense, global issues, entitlements, and the state of the economy. Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton’s speech was titled “America Abroad: Appeasement or Deterrence?” David Brady and John Cogan’s presentation was titled “Entitlements, Debt and Electoral Politics: How Did We Get Where We Are–and Where Do We Go from Here?” In their speech titled “The Road Ahead for the Fed: Two Years Later,” John Taylor and Kevin Warsh discussed the state of the economy today.
Aaron Director, founder of the field of Law and Economics,Hoover Institution fellow and distinguished University of Chicago economist
If there is one really serious intellectual and cultural problem with capitalism, it stems from the lack of a sustained and widely known, let alone accepted, moral defense of the institution of private property rights.
Few doubt, in today’s world, that a society with a legal infrastructure that lacks this institution is in serious economic trouble. The failure to respect and legally protect the institution of private property—and its corollaries, such as freedom of contract and of setting the terms by the parties to the trade—has produced economic weakness across the globe. But many also believe that this institution is not founded on anything more solid than the arbitrary will of the government to grant privileges of ownership (for the latest statement of this position, see Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership [Oxford University Press, 2002]).
Without a moral, prelegal defense, the institution of private property, which is the source of a great many benefits to us all, will forever remain vulnerable to the critics, starting with Karl Marx, who said that “the right of man to property is the right to enjoy his possessions and dispose of the same arbitrarily, without regard for other men, independently from society, the right of selfishness.” This essay argues that, contrary to widespread academic sentiments and impressions, the institution of private property rights fully accords with a sensible conception of human morality, indeed, rests on a solid moral foundation.