Liberty and Hard Cases

Liberty and Hard Cases

Editor: Tibor R. Machan
ISBN: 978-0-8179-2802-5
Publication Date: 5/17/2002
Pages: 108

Our free society rests on the fact that human beings are first and foremost sovereign individuals with the capacity for self-rule and self-directedness. But what do we do when disaster strikes? Could a fully free society preserve its liberty while also handling emergencies effectively? Natural calamities—earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and the like—seem to warrant an expansion of governmental authority beyond what a free society would sanction. But principles, says Tibor Machan, are tested by such hard cases. Despite the temptation to abandon the principle of limited government in the face of calamities, we might do well to encourage the development of institutions that could handle these problems without the involvement of government. Liberty and Hard Cases explores whether government action is in fact indispensable under such circumstances and what might be done to restrain the expansion of the scope of governmental power if indeed emergency circumstances warrant governmental intervention. The contributors examine
  • The role of government in responding to national catastrophes: how the state exploits its role to expand the scope of its authority beyond its original justification
  • Whether it is in any way possible to preserve our liberty in a society where we authorize government to protect us from natural disasters
  • Why government involvement in catastrophe insurance forces a redistribution of risks and costs that is morally indefensible
  • The role of the free market in dealing with natural disaster—and why economic development provides the best protection against natural hazards
  • The case for fully privatizing catastrophe insurance—and how to make it work
  • Ways to reduce—though perhaps not completely diminish—the scope of government in disaster relief
In emergencies—especially those that have a wide impact on a society—the opportunities for demagoguery abound, as those who administer public policy become the ultimate arbiters of what will be acceptable public policy. Liberty and Hard Cases offers a refreshing approach to maintaining our individual freedom in the face of calamity.


Liberty and Hard Cases, edited by Tibor R. Machan
In Stock
Buy This Book »
Available Formats:
  • Paper $7.49

Tibor R. Machan

Tibor R. Machan is a Hoover research fellow, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Auburn University, Alabama, and holds the R. C. Hoiles Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University.


Review and Rate this Item
Be the first to submit a review on this product!
Review and Rate this Item




Liberty and Hard Cases
Tibor R. Machan

The Role of Government in Responding to Natural Catastrophes
N. Scott Arnold

Dealing with Natural Disaster: Role of the Market
Barun S. Mitra

A Fool’s Errand?
John Ahrens

Liberty, Policy, and Natural Disasters
Aeon J. Skoble


The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the thirty-first president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs. The views expressed in its publications are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, officers, or Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution.

Hoover Institution Press Publication No. 492 Copyright © 2002 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

First printing 2002

Manufactured in the United States of America

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Liberty and hard cases / edited by Tibor R. Machan. p. cm. — (Philosophic reflections on a free society) (Hoover Institution Press publication ; no. 492) Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.

ISBN 0-8179-2802-2 (alk. paper)

1. Disaster relief—Government policy—United States.

2. Emergency management—Government policy—United States. 3. Liberty. I. Machan, Tibor R. II. Series. III. Hoover Institution Press publication ; 492.

HV555.U6 L5 2002




Sign Up

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter and notifications of all our new book releases

sign up for the newsletter