Free Thoughts

A weekly show about politics and liberty, featuring conversations with top scholars, philosophers, historians, economists, and public policy experts. Hosted by Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Eine durchschnittliche Folge dieses Podcasts dauert 51m. Bisher sind 424 Folge(n) erschienen. Dieser Podcast erscheint wöchentlich.

Gesamtlänge aller Episoden: 15 days 7 hours 15 minutes


Benjamin Tucker and the Individualist Anarchists

David D’Amato joins Aaron and Trevor for a conversation about the idea of voluntary socialism through the lens of the individualist anarchists of the 19th century. They discuss the life and philosophy of Benjamin Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre, and others, and explain how the definitions of socialism and capitalism have changed over the years.

David S. D’Amato is an attorney and a Senior Fellow and Trustee at the Center for a Stateless Society...


 2014-01-27  42m

The Primitivism of Politics

This week Aaron and Trevor talk about the tendency of the political process to group people into warring “tribes” when they otherwise wouldn’t. Trevor explains why this is so bad for society and offers several examples and solutions.

Who decides what aspects of our lives can become politicized and which ones can’t? How are things distributed in a fully politicized world? What can we do about this tendency to politicize contentious issues?

 2014-01-20  58m

Bias in Scientific Research

Patrick J. Michaels, the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, joins Aaron and Trevor for a discussion about bias in science and how scientific findings affects public policy.

The idea that science isn’t biased—or generally isn’t biased—is pretty widely held. But is that true? Is there something about science that makes it less susceptible to bias than other fields of inquiry?

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 2014-01-13  52m

Is There a Purpose to History?

Jason Kuznicki, a research fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound, joins Aaron and Trevor to discuss historicism: the idea that historical forces work to determine the ideas and values of individuals, and that as a result, historical trends have a direction or purpose to them.

To understand a person or event in history, you need to look at their historical context. That’s not so crazy all by itself—it’s actually pretty reasonable...


 2014-01-06  53m

What Is Libertarianism?

David Boaz, the executive vice president of the Cato Institute, sits down with Aaron and Trevor to talk generally about the libertarian philosophy, and answer the following questions: Is there one set of ideas called libertarianism, or is it more a collection of different schools of thought? If the latter, what binds them together? How long has libertarianism been around? And if libertarianism is so great, why is there no modern libertarian nation?

 2013-12-30  56m

When Markets Fail

What does it mean to say that something is a market failure and that public policy ought to fix it? Can the government actually provide these goods? How often do these situations occur? What does economics have to say about these public goods problems?

Van Doren explains several key economic concepts, including the economist’s definition of a public good, Pareto optimality, and Cosean bargaining...


 2013-12-23  59m

You Are Now Free to Move About the Planet

Alex Nowrasteh joins Aaron and Trevor to talk about immigration. Immigration policy provokes much debate, anger, and often some pretty ugly politics. But immigration isn’t just a matter of policy, of what effects immigrants have on America’s economic outlook—immigration raises important moral issues as well, because it impacts basic human rights.

Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity...


 2013-12-16  1h6m

Listener Q&A: But Who Will Build the Roads?

Aaron and Trevor tackle a few listener questions in this episode, including the perennial classics: Who will build the roads? Who will “control” the corporations? Is there a libertarian position on abortion? What would a libertarian society look like? What about child labor laws?

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 2013-12-09  47m

Do We Have a Duty to Obey the Government?

Jason Brennan joins Aaron and Trevor for a discussion about political obligation. Conventional wisdom holds that governments make laws and their citizens have a duty to obey them. Most people think that’s so obvious that we don’t even really need to discuss it. But is it? Governments certainly want us to obey them, but what sort of arguments are there for why we should?

Brennan is Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University...


 2013-12-02  58m

What's Okay to Buy and Sell?

James Stacey Taylor joins Aaron and Trevor to discuss what society thinks is okay to buy and sell. Buying and selling some things—like books, cars, or houses—strikes us as fine. But even the thought of trading money for things like love or organs makes many people uncomfortable or even angry...


 2013-11-25  44m