SFL Virtual Reading Groups give participants the opportunity to explore a set of readings on the intellectual underpinnings of a free society with an instructor who has expertise in the field and a group of similarly interested and qualified individuals from around the world. By creating a space for active discussion with other intellectually engaged individuals, led by capable and informed discussion leaders, VRGs give participants a chance to achieve unusual depth and perspective on the classical liberal tradition that could not be achieved through solitary study. VRGs are open to all individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of the philosophical ideas of liberty. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with other philosophically inclined participants, apply today!



Interested in hosting your own Virtual Reading Group on a topic of your choosing? Submit an application for support from SFL staff! Students that host a Virtual Reading Group will determine the topic, help identify a professor that will build a syllabus and lead the overall discussion, and will organize the virtual weekly meetings.





March 26, 2017

Exploring Red Plenty
Virtual Reading Group

  EXPLORING RED PLENTY a SFL Virtual Reading Group   One third history, one third economics, and one third fiction, Red Plenty is the best book you can read to get inside the minds of those who dreamed that a planned economy could beat capitalism and provide abundance for everyone. If you’ve read, or if you have just wondered about, Mises on Socialism and Hayek on Socialist Calculation, and you have pondered how anyone could possibly have fallen for anything as fallible as a planned economy, this is the book that will help you see why the dream seemed so appealing, and why it fell apart so fast. Application Deadline March 1st, 2017 Discussion Leader Sarah Skwire, Liberty Fund Senior Fellow Meeting Dates Wednesdays at 4:00pm […]
March 20, 2017

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible
Virtual Reading Group

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible a SFL Virtual Reading Group The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible tells the story of a boy who becomes shipwrecked on an unfamiliar island after being swept out to sea in a storm. Having previously lived in a relatively free society, in this new strange land he experiences culture shock as he learns of bewildering laws and traditions of the island’s inhabitants. The story highlights the absurdities of the laws, the controls imposed on people’s lives, and the economic drawbacks of these laws. The laws highlighted are recognizable as common to many countries throughout the world. As the story unfolds, the part individuals in society play in political decision-making and personal responsibility is introduced for discussion. Application Deadline April 2nd, 2017 […]
January 26, 2017

Islamic Foundations
Virtual Reading Group

  ISLAMIC FOUNDATIONS OF A FREE SOCIETY a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Throughout the history of Islamic societies the Sharia has formed the main framework of socio-economic and even the political life of the Islamic peoples. During the golden age of Islam (800–1200 AD) the Sharia always seemed compatible with a free society, and this was the experience of Muslim communities. The legal and juridical principles of Islamic law recognized individual freedom and rights (along with the responsibilities of individuals) in a society that provided an appropriate context for an independent judiciary and the defense of individual rights through the courts. The book contains many chapters, which were developed from presentations made at the annual conferences held by the Istanbul Network for Liberty, whose […]
January 26, 2017

Deschooling Society
Virtual Reading Group

DESCHOOLING SOCIETY a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Can more funding, better teacher pay, or higher standards fix public education’s problems? Or is the best solution to “deschool” society? Published in 1971 but still relevant today, Ivan Illich’s book Deschooling Society argues that the best way to ensure that people are truly educated is to create a complete separation of school and state. In this seminal book, he argues that state education is inherently disabling to those involved in it and paints a vision for what education might look like without state involvement. Join Dr. Kevin Currie-Knight (College of Education, East Carolina University) to read and discuss this intriguing book. You may not look at public education the same way again. Application deadline: February 1st, […]
January 3, 2017

Cypherpunks + Libertarianism
Virtual Reading Group

CYPHERPUNKS AND LIBERTARIANISM a SFL Virtual Reading Group   In this reading group, we will explore the implications of computers and cryptography in the context of liberty. Both trace their origins to the military: Alan Turing worked at Bletchley Park where he used computing machinery to crack the Nazi’s naval enigma code; computer networks, the forerunner of the internet, were pioneered by the U.S. military in order to achieve ‘second strike capability’ during the Cold War. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, computers were adopted and further developed within the civilian sector. The late 80s and early 90s saw the creation of the internet, and during these early years a group of programmers, cryptographers, hackers, and activists came together online to outline how […]
December 3, 2016

Rise of the Warrior Cop
Virtual Reading Group

RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP a SFL Virtual Reading Group   We have a Constitution with a Bill of Rights meant to protect our liberties, and a Supreme Court that is supposed to enforce these rights. Both horizontally and vertically, we have divided government; a system created on the (true) assumption that divided power is safer than concentrated power. In spite of all the care the Founders took in order to protect our rights, however, we now live in a nation that has more people behind bars than any other country, with 50% in the Federal system and 20% in the state system incarcerated for victimless acts. We don’t have a tyrant or tyrants at the top, but we have thousands of individuals with the […]
November 19, 2016

Subjectivism, Spontaneous Order, and Praxeology – VRG

SUBJECTIVISM, SPONTANEOUS ORDER, AND PRAXEOLOGY a SFL Virtual Reading Group   In this advanced virtual reading group, we will explore the emphasis on subjectivism and spontaneous order in the Menger-Mises-Hayek tradition in economics. We will begin with Menger’s original treatment of spontaneous order theorizing as a method for the social sciences. We will then turn to Mises’s extension of those ideas in Human Action and his discussion of praxeology and catallactics. Hayek’s work on the methodology of the social sciences in the 1940s emphasized the importance of subjectivism and his treatment of those issues in The Counter-Revolution of Science is among his most clear statements on the topic. Hayek’s work on the philosophy of mind also has important implications for how social science is done, […]
October 3, 2016

Exploring Atlas Shrugged
Virtual Reading Group

EXPLORING ATLAS SHRUGGED a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is one of the primary works that inspired contemporary libertarianism, due to Rand’s vision of free-market capitalism as a moral ideal and her analysis of anti-capitalist cronies and politicians. Atlas is also a thrilling mystery story with a complex plot and fascinating characters. This reading group will cover Part I of the book, with the options of parts 2 and 3 later. We will discuss the meaning of the events, the motivations of characters, and the portrayal of a world in decline. Depending on the interests of participants, we will discuss philosophical, politico-economic, and literary features of the novel. Discussion Leader: David Kelley, Founder and CIO, Atlas Society Meeting Dates: Sundays 3pm EDT, 10/9 […]
September 19, 2016

Beyond Orthodoxy: Understanding Rothbard

BEYOND ORTHODOXY: UNDERSTANDING ROTHBARD a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will focus on Rothbard’s text, “The Ethics of Liberty” and a variety of other readings in Murray Rothbard’s formidable body of work. For the first half of this reading group, Dr. Kevin Vallier will lead the reading group in a critical treatment of Rothbard’s work and in the latter half of the reading group, Dr. Roderick Long will defend his work from common criticisms. Discussion Leaders: Dr. Kevin Vallier, Department of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University and Dr. Roderick Long, Department of Philosophy, Auburn University Meeting Dates: Fall 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
August 19, 2016

Education and Classical Liberalism
Virtual Reading Group

EDUCATION AND CLASSICAL LIBERALISM a SFL Virtual Reading Group   In this group, we will discuss classical liberal critiques of state education at the k-12 level, and their ideas on how k-12 education should be offered. First, we will look at the history of how the state became the primary provider of education, and classical liberal critiques of that development. After that, we will read and discuss visions of how k-12 education might be offered in a classically liberal society. Discussion Leader: Dr. Kevin Currie-Knight, Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research, East Carolina University Meeting Dates: Summer 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
July 19, 2016

Anarchism: Theory in Practice
Virtual Reading Group

ANARCHISM: THEORY IN PRACTICE a SFL Virtual Reading Group   While some associate anarchism with violence and chaos, most philosophical proponents of anarchism have something more subtle in mind – and not always the same thing.  The readings for this program explore how social order and legal systems can arise independently of centralized political authority and in fact avoid violence and chaos. The selected readings are a combination of theoretical and historical studies, allowing us to discuss both the logical coherence and the practicality of proposed approaches to non-state social order. Discussion Leader: Dr. Aeon Skoble, Department of Philosophy, Bridgewater State UniversityResearch, East Carolina University Meeting Dates: Summer 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
June 19, 2016

War, Security, and Liberty
Virtual Reading Group

WAR, SECURITY, AND LIBERTY a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Issues of national security and intervention have always been a source of tension and disagreement among classical liberals and libertarians. This reading group will explore a variety of issues related to war, security, and liberty from an economic perspective. The topics covered will include: common justifications for state-provided security, the political economy of foreign intervention, the origins of the permanent war economy in the United States, the perverse incentives created by the military contracting process, and the negative effects of foreign intervention on the liberties and freedoms of U.S. citizens. Discussion Leader: Dr. Chris Coyne, Department of Economics, George Mason University Meeting Dates: Summer 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
April 19, 2016

The Socialist Calculation Debate
Virtual Reading Group

THE SOCIALIST CALCULATION DEBATE a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will explore the socialist calculation debate. Readings will be available online and include work by Ludwig von Mises, Frederich Hayek, Don Lavoie, Frederich Engels, Oskar Lange, and others. This reading group is for students who have some experience in economics, and are interested in the long running theoretical debate concerning the viability of centrally planned economies. We will explore classic texts in this debate which remains of critical importance today as socialism remains a hotly contested topic. Discussion Leader: Dr. Steve Horwitz, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University Meeting Dates: Spring 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
April 19, 2016

Black Studies + Classical Liberalism
Virtual Reading Group

BLACK STUDIES AND CLASSICAL LIBERALISM a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will look at the intersection of Black Studies and classical liberalism. Join Dr. Fabio Rojas to explore the following questions: what is Black Studies? Where did the field come from? How can we understand the various struggles for Black freedom? How does that relate to classical liberal ideas about freedom? Learn about these topics and more as we discuss the abolition of slavery, civil rights, black power and mass incarceration. Discussion Leader: Dr.Fabio Rojas, Department of Sociology, Indiana University Meeting Dates: Summer 2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
December 19, 2015

Libertarianism and Feminism
Virtual Reading Group

LIBERTARIANISM AND FEMINISM a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will be led by libertarian feminists Rachel Davison and Charles Johnson. Are libertarianism and feminism compatible? How have the two ideologies interacted historically? What would a truly libertarian feminist look like? Join Rachel and Charles to learn what feminism can tell us about liberty. Discussion Leader: Rachel Davison, Co-founder of the Libertia Society Meeting Dates: Winter 2015/2016   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
September 19, 2015

The Work of Don Lavoie
Virtual Reading Group

THE WORK OF DON LAVOIE a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will be led by economist and student of Don Lavoie, Steve Horwitz. Don Lavoie earned his PhD in economics from NYU in 1981 for his thesis Rivalry and Central Planning: A Re-examination of the Debate over Economics Calculation under Socialism and is an enormous influence on the modern Austrian School of Economics. Author of numerous articles, essays, and books, Lavoie’s work focuses on competitive rivalry in the market system, the nature and function of prices, and the role of culture in economic development. Join Professor Horwitz to gain a better understanding of this monumental thinker. Discussion Leader: Dr. Steve Horwitz, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University Meeting Dates: Fall 2015   Back to Virtual Reading […]
July 19, 2015

The Case for Open Borders
Virtual Reading Group

THE CASE FOR OPEN BORDERS a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Immigration and the moral status of national borders have historically divided many liberty-oriented thinkers and remains a hot-button issue among the libertarian minded. An issue this complex can be approached from a variety of different analytical lenses. Libertarian thinkers have studied borders from a wide array of ethical, economic, sociological, and political viewpoints over the years, yet a widespread consensus on the their role, if they have one, has yet to be realized in the community. The debates about the moral status of national borders, the economic effects of immigration, the way in which immigration affects culture, and the political consequences of immigration policy have roused freedom lovers’ intellects, imaginations, and hunger for debate for […]
October 19, 2014

The Past & Future of the Libertarian Left

THE PAST AND FUTURE OF THE LIBERTARIAN LEFT a SFL Virtual Reading Group   This reading group will be led by Charles Johnson and will focus on his anthology, Markets Not Capitalism, and a variety of other readings regarding left-libertarianism, individualist anarchism, and free market anti-capitalism. Discussion Leader: Charles Johnson, Senior Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society Meeting Dates: Fall 2014   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
September 19, 2014

The Origins of Radical Libertarianism in America

THE ORIGINS OF RADICAL LIBERTARIANISM IN AMERICA a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Participants will read selected debates from Benjamin Tucker’s periodical, Liberty and will analyze them from both a historical and philosophical perspective to understand the context in which libertarianism was born and to see whether the arguments made by these early libertarians stand up to critical scrutiny Discussion Leader: Matt Zwolinski, Department of Philosophy, University of San Diego Meeting Dates: Fall 2014   Back to Virtual Reading Groups
July 19, 2013

Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford
Virtual Reading Group

RED PLENTY, by FRANCIS SPUFFORD a SFL Virtual Reading Group This reading group will dive into a literary adventure set in the late 1950s Soviet Union. Dr. Sarah Skwire will lead a discussion on the novel Red Plenty, highlighting the struggle of implementing a planned economy. Discussion Leader: Dr. Sarah Skwire, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. Meeting Dates: Summer 2013 Back to Virtual Reading Groups
April 19, 2013

Discovery of Freedom, by Rose Wilder Lane

DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM, BY ROSE WILDER LANE a SFL Virtual Reading Group   Ever heard of Rose Wilder Lane?  Did you know that she was one of three “founding mothers” of American libertarianism? This reading group will explore Rose Wilder Lane’s Discovery to Freedom: Man’s Struggle Against Authority, and will be lead by the captivating Jeffrey Tucker! Discussion Leader: Jeffrey Tucker, Chief Liberty Officer and Founder of Meeting Dates: Spring 2013   Back to Virtual Reading Groups