Seminar: Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society

Lynne Kiesling

The radio silence from yours truly has been due to the concatenation (one of my favorite words) of two events: a project deadline today and my participation as a faculty member in the Institute for Humane Studies seminar Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society (note the serial comma, so there, Tom!). I gave three lectures on basic concepts in economics that apply to living together in civil society: the dynamics of how markets work and of prohibition, unintended consequences, and how property rights and ownership induce personal responsibility and self-regulation.

As with most IHS seminars, I got better than I gave; I learned more from the students and my colleagues than I taught. This seminar in particular focused on civil liberties, so it engaged my brain on topics I had not examined critically in quite some time: the drug war, prostitution, gambling, assisted suicide, smoking bans, gun ownership, school choice, and occupational licensing.

The arguments for individual liberty and personal autonomy in these areas is both practical and moral, and I believe we discussed them all (which is why I’m so bloody tired at the end of the week!). The practice of state paternalism directly contravenes liberty and autonomy, and induces the individual capability for self-regulation to atrophy. It also deteriorates community ties.

But this is not my area of expertise, so I will defer to other more knowledgeable and eloquent parties on these topics, such as Radley Balko. For me, it was a great learning experience.

One thought on “Seminar: Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society

  1. Graffiti and vandalism destroy community ties. They are their own tribal and raider culture. They are losers, of course, who can still cause high losses to the fabric of society.

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