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Freedom and the Law

Bruno Leoni

Publication Year: 2012

Those who value individual freedom should reassess the place of the individual within the legal system as a whole. It is no longer a question of defending this or that particular freedom. . . . It is a question of deciding whether individual freedom is compatible in principle with the present system centered on . . . legislation.

—Bruno Leoni, from the introduction

The greatest obstacle to rule of law in our time, contends the author of this thought-provoking work, is the problem of overlegislation. In modern democratic societies, legislative bodies are increasingly usurping functions that were and should be exercised by individuals or groups rather than government. The result is an unwieldy surfeit of laws and regulations that by their sheer volume stifle individual freedom.

Bruno Leoni (1913–1967) was an attorney and Professor of Legal Theory and the Theory of the State at the University of Pavia, Italy.

Arthur Kemp is Professor Emeritus of Economics, at Claremont McKenna College.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v-v

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Foreword to the Third Edition

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pp. vii-xi

Bruno Leoni was a devoted proponent, in virtually all his activities, of those ideals we call liberal. He was a remarkably talented, intelligent, able, persuasive, multifaceted individual who might well have deserved the description Renaissance man, if it ...

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pp. 3-25

It seems to be the destiny of individual freedom at the present time to be defended mainly by economists rather than by lawyers or political scientists. As far as lawyers are concerned, perhaps the reason is that they are in ...

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1. Which Freedom?

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pp. 26-42

Abraham Lincoln, in a speech at Baltimore in 1864, recognized both the difficulty of defining "freedom" and the fact that the Civil War between the North and the South was based, in a way, on a misunderstanding related to that word. "The world," ...

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2. "Freedom" and "Constraint"

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pp. 43-57

A more careful approach to the poblem of defining "freedom" than the realistic one that we have here rejected would involve a preliminary inquiry concerning the nature and purpose of such a definition. It is customary to distinguish "stipulative" ...

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3. Freedom and the Rule of Law

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pp. 58-75

It is not easy to state what English-speaking people mean by the expression "the rule of law." The meaning of these words has changed in the last seventy or even fifty years, and the phrase itself has acquired rather an obsolete sound in England as well as ...

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4. Freedom and the Certainty of the Law

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pp. 76-94

The Greek conception of the certainty of the law was that of a written law. Although we are not directly concerned here with problems of historical research, it may be interesting to recall that the Greeks, especially in earlier times, also had a conception ...

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5. Freedom and Legislation

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pp. 95-111

A very important conclusion to be drawn from the preceding chapters is that the rule of law, in the classical sense of the expression, cannot be maintained without actually securing the certainty of the law, conceived as the possibility of long-run planning ...

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6. Freedom and Representation

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pp. 112-132

It is frequently asserted that there is, or to put it more accurately, there once was, a classical concept of the democratic process that bears little resemblance to what is happening on the political scene at present either in Britain, where that process ...

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7. Freedom and the Common Will

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pp. 133-152

To a superficial observer my suggestion of a redrawing of the maps of the areas occupied respectively by individual choices and by group decisions may resemble more a daring attack on the present system, with its emphasis on decision groups and group ...

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8. Some Difficulties Analyzed

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pp. 153-171

Let us consider some of the objections that might be raised against a system in which group decisions and decision groups would play a much less important role than is now commonly deemed necessary in political life. No doubt present-day governments and ...

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pp. 172-186

Perhaps the best procedure to follow in writing this conclusion is to try to reply to some of the questions that my readers would probably ask me if they could. In fact, I was asked such questions ...

The Law and Politics

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pp. 187-188

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1. The Law as Individual Claim

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pp. 189-203

Contemporary philosophical schools that focus on the analysis of language have probably taught us less than they pretend. Nonetheless, they have reminded us of something that we know well but easily forget. Words are "words," and it isn't possible to ...

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2. Law and Economy in the Making

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pp. 204-218

General studies on the nature of economic science are rather rare. The same can be said, by and large, of general studies of legal science. This is probably a good reason why we lack studies worth mentioning comparing the nature of the law-making process ...

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3. The Economic Approach to the Political

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pp. 219-234

I have already stated at the beginning of these lectures that we still lack studies worth mentioning on the nature of the lawmaking process as compared with the nature of the market process. This statement, however, needs qualification. During recent ...

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4. Voting Versus the Market

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pp. 235-249

We have seen in the preceding lecture that notwithstanding many similarities that may exist between voters on the one hand and market operators on the other, the actions of the two are far from actually being similar. No procedural rule seems able to ...


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pp. 249-258

Publication Information

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p. 260-260

E-ISBN-13: 9781614878230
E-ISBN-10: 1614878234
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865970977

Page Count: 274
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None