"... freedom of men under government is to have a standing
rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and
made by the legislative power erected in it. A liberty to
follow my own will in all things where that rule prescribes
not, not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain,
unknown, arbitrary will of another man, ..."
— John Locke, Second
Treatise, Ch. 4 §21.
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— Sometimes equated with regula iuris, the "Rule of
Law", holds that government can and should be legally limited in
its powers, and that its authority depends on enforcing those
Essays and Commentaries
Contract and Constitutional Republics, Jon Roland, 1994,
with 2007 Supplement.
Works on Tyranny — To understand the principles of
constitutional republican government, one must understand the
principles of its opposite.
Constitutional History &
Commentary Collection — Books, anthologies, and essays.
Works of Herbert Spencer (1802-1903) — Early libertarian
Selected Works, Harvey Wheeler —
Papers on Francis Bacon and constitutional history and law.
Paradox of Self-Amendment: A Study of Law, Logic,
Omnipotence, and Change, by Peter Suber, Philosophy Department,
Earlham College. Explores logical problems with constitutions,
especially involving amendment of them.
Nullum ius sine summo legislatore.
There is no law without a sovereign (supreme lawgiver).
— Ancient legal maxim.
Politics, Aristotle (~350
BCE) — Laid out the alternative forms of government.
on Livy, Niccolo Machiavelli (1517) — Argues for the
ideal form of government being a republic based on popular
consent, defended by militia.
Cive (The Citizen), Thomas Hobbes (1641-47) — Laid
basis for social contract theory, providing branching point for
the theories of constitutionalism and fascism.
Treatise on Government, John Locke (1689) —
Principal proponent of the social contract theory which forms
the basis for modern constitutional republican government.
Address before the Young Men's
Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln
(1838) — Presents the idea of a political religion.
The Law, Frederick
Bastiat (1850) — Classic treatment of one of the main challenges
to the survival of democratic government.
John Stuart Mill (1860) — Carries social contract theory beyond
Government, John Stuart Mill (1861) — Carries the
theory of constitutional republican government beyond the
Framers of the U.S. Constitution.
|Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained
— Napoleon Bonaparte
and the Founding Fathers: the separation of powers, by
Marshall Davies Lloyd — Analysis of how we got the idea of
separating legislative, executive, and judicial functions into
different branches of government.
Institutes of Oratory,
Quintilian, 95 CE, tr. John Watson, 1856. A leading rhetorician
of the Cicero school wrote this 12-volume treatise,
that continues where Aristotle left off, and represents the
highest standards of Roman virtue.
of God, St. Aurelius Augustin of Hippo (354-430 AD)
— Analysis of conflict between Christian ideal and secular
reality in political affairs, first statement of "just war" in
Book 19 Chapter 7.
the Laws and Customs of England, Henry de Bracton
(1268) — First codification of English common Law.
Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) — Develops
doctrine of righteous government according to Christian
principles, based in part on earlier work of St. Augustine,
William of Ockham (1280-1349) — This medieval English political
philosopher laid the basis for the early theory of law,
especially on property and the law of nations, that led to
Common Law. In Latin, being translated into English, under
construction. Noted for the Principle of Parsimony, also
known as Ockham's Razor: "Entia non sunt
multiplicanda praeter necessitatum" — "Do not multiply
entities beyond necessity", or in other words, "When in doubt,
do without." In the theory of knowledge, it means that among
theories that equally explain the facts, always choose the
Institute on the Magna Carta, Sir Edward Coke (1628)
— Authoritative commentary on the Magna
Carta as understood at the time.
Hobbes — Site dedicated to his works with
commentaries, from Eric Hochberger.
Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations,
Adam Smith (1776) — Classical economics that shaped the writing
of the U.S. Constitution.
Stuart Mill — Site dedicated to his works with
commentaries, from Eric Hochberger.
Democracy in America, Alexis de Toqueville (1835,
1840) — Discusses the society that makes republican government
work and how it is shaped by that form of government.
on Government, John C. Calhoun — Discussed the
problem of defending the rights of a minority against a
Structure of Liberty, Randy E. Barnett — Excerpts
from a libertarian approach to law.
Approaches to the Social Contract, Entry from online Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
by Ludwig Von Mises. Critique of the dominant political faction
in the modern world.
Law and Natural Rights, by James A. Donald. Historical
review of the concepts.
Freedom? — Debate on social contract theory between Tibor
Machan and Jan Narveson at the Independent Institute Conference
Center, March 31, 1999.
Works of George Orwell
— Includes 1984
Website — Collection of the philosophical works of Baruch
Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United
States and the World, by L. Fletcher Prouty (1997).
Founders: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the
Rationale for the American Revolution, by Bruce E. Johansen.
The Proceedings of the
Friesian School — Collection of academic papers, dedicated to
the philosopher Jakob Friedrich Fries (1773-1843).
Spooner Collection — American political philosopher.
Also see the collections of Liberty
Online and James A. Donald.
|For every complex problem, there is a solution that is
simple, neat, and wrong.
— H. L. Mencken
|For every problem there is a solution which is simple,
obvious, and wrong."
— Albert Einstein
Dilemma and Public Choice Theory — Explorations of the
conflict between what is rational for the individual and what is
rational for the group.
Economics — Explores the psychological and cognitive
factors in economic decisions.
Behavior of Social Systems, by Jay Forrester — Classic
paper on why public policies produce unintended consequences.
Complex Networks in Constitutional Republics, by Jon
Roland — Examines how changing network structures can reveal how
political and economic processes behave and misbehave.
Chaos and Constitutions, by Jon
Roland — Examines how the behavior of societies can only be
managed in small ways and without reliable outcomes.
for Constitutional Design — Toward constitution-writing
programs that may generate better constitutions than conventions
of human beings can design.
Pynthantics — The
art and science of asking questions to get useful answers.