Throughout the history of Classical Liberalism, ideas about liberty have been bound up with understanding that most meaningful change—social, economic, political, and cultural—has been the result of civil society. In this colloquium, students will explore foundational texts on both liberty and civil society like Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, Ferguson’s Essay on the History of Civil Society, and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Selections from modern scholars include Spencer MacCallum’s The Art of Community, Robert Putnam’s article “Bowling Alone,” and Peter Linebaugh’s The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day. The discussion will be led by Georgetown University’s John Hasnas.

Session I: Civil Society and the Scottish Enlightenment

  • Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Edited by D. D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1982. Selections from Part VI, Section II, “Introduction,” Chapter 1, “Of the Order in Which Individuals are Recommended by Nature to Our Care and Attention,” and Chapter 2, “Of the Order in Which Societies are by Nature Recommended to Our Beneficence,” pp. 218-234.
  • Ferguson, Adam. An Essay on the History of Civil Society. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1980, 1995. Part 4, “Of Consequences that Result from the Advancement of Civil and Commercial Arts,” pp. 180-203.
  • Elias L. Khalil. “What Determines the Boundary of Civil Society? Hume, Smith, and the Justification of European Exploitation of Non-Europeans,” Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 60, No. 134 (March 2013): 26-49.

Session II: Tocqueville on Civil Society

  • Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America (English Edition), Volume 2. Edited by Eduardo Nolla. Translated by James T. Schleifer. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2012. Part II, Chapter 1, “Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Enduring Love for Equality Than for Liberty,” Chapter 2, “Of Individualism in Democratic Countries,” Chapter 3, “How Individualism is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than at Another Time,” Chapter 4, “How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutions,” Chapter 5, “Of the Use that Americans Make of Association in Civil Life,” Chapter 6, “Of the Relation Between Associations and Newspapers,” Chapter 7, “Relations Between Civil Associations and Political Associations,” and Chapter 8, “How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood,” pp. 872-925.
  • US Magazine & Democratic Review, Vol. I, No. 1. 1837, “European Views of American Democracy,” pp. 91-107.

Session III: Civil Society in Early America

  • Massachusetts Historical Society. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1838. John Winthrop’s “A Modell of Christian Charity (1630),” (8 online pages).
  • Franklin, Benjamin. Writings. New York: The Library of America, 1987. “A Prosposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge Among the British Plantations in America” and “Appeal for the Hospital,” pp. 295-297, 361-367.
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America (English Edition), Volume 1. Edited by Eduardo Nolla. Translated by James T. Schleifer. Indianpolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2012. Selection from Part I, Chapter 5, “Necessity of Studying What Happens in the Individual States before Speaking about the Government of the Union,” and Part II, Chapter 4, “Of Political Association in the United States,” pp. 98-114, 302-312.
  • Paine, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume I (1774-1779). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894. Selection from Chapter 15 “Common Sense: Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution,” pp. 69-75.

Session IV: Social Institutions and Community

  • Beito, David T., Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok, eds. The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. Chapter 8, David T. Beito’s “This Enormous Army: The Mutual-Aid Tradition of American Fraternal Societies before the Twentieth Century,” and Chapter 10, James Tooley’s “Education in the Voluntary City,” pp. 182-203, 223-251.
  • MacCallum, Spencer Heath. The Art of Community. Menlo Park, California: Institute for Humane Studies, Inc., 1970. Chapter 1, “Is the Hotel a Community?” pp. 1-5.

Session V: The State, Markets, and the Role of Civil Society

  • Putnam, Robert. “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital.” Journal of Democracy (January 1995): 6.1, pp. 65-78.
  • Boaz, David, ed. The Libertarian Reader: Classic and Contemporary Readings from Lao-tzu to Milton Friedman. New York: The Free Press, 1997. Richard Cornuelle’s “The Power and Poverty of Libertarian Thought,” pp. 363-370.
  • Meadowcroft, John and Mark Pennington. Rescuing Social Capital from Social Democracy. London: The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2007. Chapter 1, “Introduction,” Chapter 2, “Defining Social Capital,” Chapter 3, “Social Capital, Social Democracy and the Critique of Liberty Markets,” Chapter 4, “Classical Liberalism, Markets and the Spontaneous Generation of Bridging Social Capital,” and Chapter 5, “Markets and the Mix Between Bonding and Bridging Social Capital,” pp. 17-63.

Session VI: Egalitarian and Classical Liberal Conceptions of Civil Society

  • Chambers, Simone and Will Kymlicka, eds. Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. Part I, Chapter 2, Michael Walzer’s “Equality and Civil Society,” and Chapter 3, Loren E. Lomasky’s “Classical Liberalism and Civil Society,” pp. 34-67.
  • Linebaugh, Peter. The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day. Chapter 2, “The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day,” pp. 11-28.