Libertarian theories of lawLibertarian theories of law
build on libertarianism
or classical liberalism
. The defining characteristic of libertarian legal theory is its insistence that the primary or only legitimate function of law is the preservation of liberty. Historically, the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek
is one of the most important libertarian legal theorists. Among contemporary legal theorists, an important and influential libertarian is Randy Barnett
, who set out a comprehensive libertarian theory of law in his book The Structure of Liberty
. Richard Epstein
is also a prominent libertarian legal theorist.
Libertarian legal theory addresses a variety of substantive topics, including the following:
- What is a legitimate constitutional in light of the principles of libertarian political theory?
- What are just practices of criminal punishment?
- What are the limits on legitimate government authority? For example, what is the extent of the legitimate police power?
- Randy Barnett, The Structure of Liberty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) ISBN: 0198293240.
- Richard Epstein, Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003) ISBN: 0226213048.
- Friedrich Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty: The Political Order of a Free People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981) ISBN: 0226320901.