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Liberty, Free Markets, and Moral Character—An Important Conference for College Students

biddle-clemsonMay 22–25, I’ll be speaking at “Liberty, Free Markets, and Moral Character” along with Andrew Bernstein, Brad Thompson, and several libertarian speakers. The conference is for students between 18 and 24 years old; the deadline for applications is March 8.

I’ve spoken at similar conferences hosted by The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism over the past few years, and I’ve enjoyed them immensely. The students tend to be extremely bright and active minded, and many of them have told me (and other faculty) that they learned more of substance during these few days than they learned during their years of college. This year’s conference, however, promises to be especially interesting and enlightening.

This year, The Clemson Institute has teamed up with the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE); so the conference faculty now include Objectivists and libertarians, each presenting their views about what a free society is and what such a society depends on. I’m delighted to see libertarian and Objectivist intellectuals presenting their respective ideas to students at the same conference. Given the growth of the pro-liberty movement and the many active-minded, high-energy youth involved in it—and given the unique power of Objectivism to undergird liberty with observation-based moral and philosophic support—I regard this conference as a great opportunity to educate liberty-minded youth about the importance of such a foundation.

The philosophic orientation of the conference can be seen in the marketing of the event, which opens with this:

“There is only one power that determines the course of history, just as it determines the course of every individual life: the power of man’s rational faculty—the power of ideas. If you know a man’s convictions, you can predict his actions. If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society, you can predict its course. But convictions and philosophy are matters open to man’s choice.” —Ayn Rand What is the connection between liberty, free markets, and moral character? Economic thinking provides powerful insights about the world by explaining that people make choices and are driven by incentives. However, it does not tell you why people must make choices or, more importantly, what choices to make. This seminar turns economic thinking on its head by looking at its foundations through a philosophic lens. What are the moral and philosophic underpinnings of economic thinking? Why do we have to make choices and how does moral character determine the choices people make?

The lecture descriptions follow suit. Here is the speaking schedule:

  • “Value: Subjective or Objective?” by Dr. Aeon Skoble
  • “The Source and Nature of Rights” by Craig Biddle
  • “A Christian Perspective of Natural Rights” by Dr. Anne Bradley
  • “Contrasting Other Ethical Bases for Liberty” by Dr. Aeon Skoble
  • “How Society Orders Itself” by Dr. Tom Bell
  • “The Trader Principle” by Dr. Andrew Bernstein)
  • “Is Money the Root of All Evil?” by Dr. Andrew Bernstein
  • “The Origins and Nature of Law” by Dr. Tom Bell
  • “Power Corrupts: How Good Intentions Pave The Road to Serfdom” by Max Borders
  • “Self Interest Rightly Understood” by Dr. Anne Bradley Thompson
  • “Entrepreneurship: Creating Value in a World of Uncertainty and Big Government” by Max Borders
  • “The Path to Flourishing” by Dr. Anne Bradley
  • “The Arena” Debate: “Is moral diversity an asset or liability for the liberty movement?” —Craig Biddle and Max Borders (Relevant Readings: “Rights Schmights” by Max Borders, and “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism” by Craig Biddle)
  • “Rights-Protecting Government and Objective Law” by Craig Biddle

This is a perfect opportunity for students to examine these crucial issues by hearing arguments from Objectivists and libertarians; by asking questions to clarify the speakers’ claims and meaning; and by thinking, debating, and striving to figure out which (if any) of the ideas make sense.

If you are between 18 and 24 years old, don’t miss this opportunity: Apply today. And share this information with any friends who might be interested.

I hope to see you there!

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