Category Archives: Philosophy

Bottom up versus top down

Bottom up versus top down

By Neil Lock

Today, I’m going to look at two diametrically opposed ways of thinking, and at the practitioners of those two ways. One way, I call bottom up; the other, top down.

Bottom up thinking is like the way we build a house. Starting from the ground, we work upwards, using what we’ve done already as support for what we’re working on at the moment. Top down thinking, on the other hand, starts out from an idea that is a given. It then works downwards, seeking evidence for the idea, or to add detail to it, or to put it into practice.

These two opposed methods bear on far more than just the way we think. The idea of bottom up versus top down can be applied to many dimensions of our lives. It can be applied to our overall world view, and to our views on religion. To how we seek knowledge. To our ethical and political views. To our conception of government and law. To our opinions on economics and environment. To how we communicate with others. To our views on education and media; and many more. Bottom up versus top down isn’t a single scale of (say) 0 to 100, but a multi-dimensional space, in which each individual’s position is represented on many different axes.

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Praxeology and a priori truth: an interview with David Gordon

By Richard Storey

The following is an interview I conducted with the brilliant philosopher, Dr. David Gordon, who has been described as the semiofficial reviewer of the libertarian community.  There is hardly a better mind to help us understand ‘praxeology’ and the basis for Austro-libertarian thinking in the school of von Mises, Rothbard, Block and Hoppe et al.  Please follow the links for helpful resources to understand the definition of some philosophical terms and to access useful materials mentioned by David.

R: David, you have divided up two schools of thought in philosophy and economics – the German school, which I think stems from the Vienna circle, influenced greatly by the British empiricists, such as Locke and Hume; and the Austrian school spearheaded by Ludwig von Mises who was influenced by Menger and Böhm-Bawerk.  Now, Mises was somewhat of a rationalist; at least, he used the language of Immanuel Kant to show we need some sort of dualism when we engage in the empirical, physical sciences (which use the scientific method and the historical method).  That is, in order to gain knowledge from the world, we must use rationalistic thinking as well.  In that sense, would you say Mises’ thinking hearkens back to Aristotle by ascertaining those irrefutable axioms we can determine rationally for ourselves? Read more

Epicuro, quem é e porquê todo liberal deveria conhecer.

Willian Pablo

Note: My Portuguese is less than perfect, but this is an interesting and well-informed overview of Epicurus. Some nice mentions of me as well! SIG

O contrato social, a busca pela felicidade, o individualismo, o decaimento do poder da religião e o advento do racionalismo científico. Parece moderno para você? Não se engane, esses pensamentos constituem uma doutrina filosófica bastante antiga, fundada em 307 antes de cristo e redescoberta justamente no período do advento do pensamento moderno, no sec XVII.

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An Unchallenged Arbiter: The Role of British State Agency in Creating Forms of Unnatural Exclusion and Inclusion in Communities

An Unchallenged Arbiter: The Role of British State Agency in Creating Forms of Unnatural Exclusion and Inclusion in Communities

PDF version of the essay

Political Notes No. 201

By Chris Shaw

ISBN: 1856376699
ISBN 13: 9781856376693

© 2016: Libertarian Alliance; Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw is an independent writer and researcher, going on to study an MA in International Political Economy at the University of Warwick. He describes himself as a libertarian anarchist, and has written for a number of libertarian sites, including C4SS, the Mises Institute and the Cobden Centre.

The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers.

In this essay I look at how the British state engenders unnatural inclusion and exclusion of migrants and asylum seekers through theoretical definitions, xeno-racist policies and entry barriers to socio-economic realms of life which limit the capacity of these groups to integrate and participate in civil society. Rather than looking at the framework of migration and inclusion through the lens of either settled populaces and their feelings of racism or through the blaming of migrants for not integrating, I want to see how state policies allow for such narratives to expand which limit the development of both bonding and bridging capital, and, when pushed through certain defined variants of community, create the kind of conditions seen in Sighthill, Glasgow. This then breeds misconceptions about migration, and means the fragmentation of communities among settled populaces and migrant networks. Read more

Someone Should Tell Bill Kristol Dwarf Tossing Is Cruel

By Ilana Mercer

Prominent neoconservative Bill Kristol shared his election-year hallucinations with the nation. From the ashes of the Republican primaries would rise a man to stand for president against victor Donald J. Trump, a Sisyphean task that has been attempted and failed by 17 other worthies.

This individual is David French, an attorney, a decorated Iraq War veteran, and writer for the decidedly “Against Trump” National Review. Curiously, Kristol’s independent candidate is a “devout social conservative,” an evangelical who questions the merits of “de-stigmatizing” homosexuality, rejects the progressive premise upon which the transgender, potty wars are being waged, and would keep women out of combat. Read more

Neoliberalism and its Intellectual Forebears: Friend or Foe?

Neoliberalism and its Intellectual Forebears: Friend or Foe? An Insight into Critics of the Modern Neoliberal State vs. its Ideological Roots

Joey Simnett (2016)


The political economy of classical liberalism, or libertarianism, as personified by thinkers such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, is seen as the bedrock of neoliberalism. Their philosophy of an impartial state and the use of markets as social institutions to direct economic activity has strong parallels with the rhetoric of political movements that initiated the transition away from the post-war consensus. This has generated much controversy, with political critics from both left and right commenting on the effects of this allegedly free market consensus. However, the relationship between neoliberalism and its ideological roots is not so clear. This paper argues that, far from the free market picture of society that critics paint, the state of contemporary affairs deviates considerably from the vision of its intellectual predecessors, and thus the criticisms levelled at neoliberalism as endemic of a failure in free market theory are misguided. This is achieved by strictly defining the ideological vision of Hayek, Friedman et al. and comparing it with heavily criticised ‘crises of neoliberalism’ to highlight a fundamental departure from the principles that they value, and show neoliberalism to be fundamentally of a different character that its critics portray it to be.   Read more

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