In Defense of Liberty: Social Order & The Role of Government

Thumbnail Image
Penn collection
Honors Theses (PPE)
Degree type
political philosophy
political economy
political theory
laissez-faire capitalism
state development
social order
political legitimacy
limited government
Ethics and Political Philosophy
Political Economy
Political Theory
Grant number
Copyright date
Related resources

This thesis seeks to address some of the most central questions to the fields of political philosophy and political economy. First, how can social order and government rationally develop out of anarchy? Next, what acts of force, if any, are morally permissible for the State to perform in its relations with individuals, so as to maintain political legitimacy? Lastly, what policies ought the State implement to achieve the best welfare outcomes for a society? This thesis will first show that a laissez-faire capitalist social order can spontaneously emerge from a purely self-interested State of Nature, with the institution of government being a mere product of market forces. Then, this thesis will defend a theory of natural rights on the basis that persons are normatively separate, before establishing that a laissez-faire capitalist social order is uniquely in compliance with these universal moral standards of conduct that predate the institution of any government. Finally, it will be argued in this thesis that the key tenets of laissez-faire capitalism - strong individual rights to life, liberty, and property - produce maximal human welfare from both individualist and collectivist aggregations, before such conclusions are translated into a foundation for limited government. Cumulatively, these arguments serve to fortify libertarian political philosophy and demonstrate that laissez-faire capitalism is the optimal form of social order.

Dr. Raj N. Patel
Date Range for Data Collection (Start Date)
Date Range for Data Collection (End Date)
Digital Object Identifier
Series name and number
Publication date
Journal title
Volume number
Issue number
Publisher DOI
Journal Issue
Recommended citation