Liberty, Luxury, and Wealth


This colloquium reflected on various conceptions of wealth and luxury. The most important questions with respect to the topic were: What is the relation between liberty, luxury, and wealth? Is wealth a vice or a virtue? How are wealth and luxury to be understood?


From Liberty Fund


by By Helmut Schoeck

This classic study is one of the few books to explore extensively the many facets of envy—“a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being.” Ranging widely over literature, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, Professor Schoeck— a distinguished sociologist and anthropologist—elucidates both the constructive…

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The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by By Adam Smith
Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from…

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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (vol. 2)

by By Adam Smith
Edited by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner
William B. Todd, Textual Editor

First published in 1776, the year in which the American Revolution officially began, Smith’s Wealth of Nations sparked a revolution of its own. In it Smith analyzes the major elements of political economy, from market pricing and the division of labor to monetary, tax, trade, and other government policies that…

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Additional Readings

Aristotle. The Politics. Translated by T. A. Sinclair. England: Penguin Group, 1981.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Indianapolis: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1962.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Gambler. Translated by Constance Garnett. New York: Modern Library, 2003.

Frank, Robert H. Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Excess. New York: The Free Press, 1999.

Gordon, David. "Review of Robert Frank's "Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Success"." Mises Review (Spring 2000): 3.

Hume, David. “Essays, Moral, Political and Literary.” Liberty Fund, Inc. (August 7, 2009).

Kant, Immanuel. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. Edited by Robert B. Louden and Manfred Kuehn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Lavoie, Don and Emily Chamlee. "Culture and Enterprise: The development, representation, and morality of business." CATO (2000): 81-103.

Machan, Tibor. Generosity: Virtue in Civil Society. Washington: Cato Institute, 1998.

Mandeville, Bernard. The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1988.

Marcellinus, Ammianus. History: XIV.16. Translated by J. C. Rolfe. Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1985.

Plato. The Republic. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Pliny the Elder. Natural History: Books XXXIII-XXXV volume 9. Translated by H. Rackman. Boston: William Heinemann, 1952.

Say, Jean Baptiste. “A Treatise on Political Economy.” Liberty Fund. (2-27-09).

Voltaire. The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version. Edited by Tobias Smollett. Translated by William F. Fleming. Compiled by John Morley. New York: E. R. DuMont, 1901.

von Humboldt, Wilhelm. The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.) [1792]. Translated by Joseph Coulthard, Jr. London: John Chapman, 1854.