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 431 Folge(n) erschienen. Jede Woche gibt es eine neue Folge dieses Podcasts.

Gesamtlänge aller Episoden: 15 days 13 hours 29 minutes


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

Libertarians and the Poor

Matt Zwolinski joins Aaron and Trevor for a look at the plight of poor people and how concern for the least well-off relates to libertarian thinking. Libertarians are often branded as being anti-poor and are frequently criticized for espousing a philosophy that only benefits the rich and privileged. But is that true?

Zwolinski teaches philosophy at the University of San Diego, founded the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog, and writes for


 2013-11-18  59m

Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia"

Julian Sanchez joins Trevor and Aaron for a discussion on the political philosophy of Robert Nozick. Nozick’s 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a classic of modern philosophy. In it, he argues that the rights we all have as human beings dramatically limit what the state’s allowed to do.

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 2013-11-11  1h27m

Can Money Buy Elections?

John Samples joins Aaron and Trevor in looking at the relationship between money and political speech. Campaign finance is a perennial issue, but much of the argument about it rests on often unexamined assumptions...


 2013-10-28  59m