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Legal Foundations of a Free Society

Stephan Kinsella, Legal Foundations of a Free Society (Houston, Texas: Papinian Press, 2023).

Legal Foundations of a Free Society (LFFS) is an updated selection of articles published over three decades dealing with a variety of issues in libertarian rights and legal theory, including the nature and foundations of libertarianism, rights and punishment theory, causation and responsibility, contract theory, and intellectual property. The chapters have been significantly revised and updated and integrated with each other with extensive cross-references, and with an extensive bibliography and index. LFFS was professionally typeset and designed by Susi Clark, of Creative Blueprint Design, and proofed by Susan Bruck, who also prepared the bibliography and index.

LFFS was first published (Sept. 21, 2023) in a limited inaugural print run for presentation at the Property and Freedom Society Annual Meeting, Bodrum, Turkey, September 2023. Hardcover, paperback, and ebook (Kindle) versions are available on Amazon. A free pdf file is available below. I will also eventually post online  the epub file; and, yes, anyone is free to copy or use this book as they like, as I am publishing it under a Creative Commons 0 (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication (No Copyright). I may create a free audio version at some point as well—or anyone else is free to make one, without my permission, since I have freed it from the clutches of copyright.

As I note in the Preface, for those who want to skip the more extraneous material and focus on the core libertarian theory chapters, I recommend chapters 2–12, 14–15, and 18.

For those who just want a taste of what the book is about, I recommend the Foreword by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, my Preface, and chapters 1 (“How I Became A Libertarian”) and 2 (“What Libertarianism Is”).

Content by chapter, and links to supplementary material and readings are provided below.

Links and Files:


Legal Foundations of a Free Society


  • Dedication
  • Epigraph
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments


  1. How I Became A Libertarian (2002)
  2. What Libertarianism Is (2009)
  3. What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist (2004)


  1. How We Come To Own Ourselves (2006)
  2. A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights (1997)
  3. Dialogical Arguments for Libertarian Rights (1996/2019)
  4. Defending Argumentation Ethics: Reply to Murphy & Callahan (2002)


  1. Causation and Aggression (2004)
  2. A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability (2003)
  3. Inalienability and Punishment: A Reply to George Smith (1998–99)
  4. Selling Does Not Imply Ownership, and Vice-Versa: A Dissection (2022)
  5. Reply to Van Dun: Non-Aggression and Title Transfer (2004)
  6. Legislation and the Discovery of Law in a Free Society (1995)


  1. Law and Intellectual Property in a Stateless Society (2013)
  2. Against Intellectual Property After Twenty Years: Looking Back and Looking Forward (2023)
  3. Introduction to Origitent (2018)
  4. Conversation with Schulman about Logorights and Media-Carried Property (2018)
  5. Goods, Scarce and Nonscarce (2010)


  1. Knowledge, Calculation, Conflict, and Law (1999)
  2. Review of Anthony de Jasay, Against Politics: On Government, Anarchy, and Order (1998)
  3. Taking the Ninth Amendment Seriously: A Review of Calvin R. Massey’s Silent Rights: The Ninth Amendment and the Constitution’s Unenumerated Rights (1997)
  4. The Undeniable Morality of Capitalism (1994)


  1. On Libertarian Legal Theory, Self-Ownership and Drug Laws (2014)
  2. Stephan Kinsella on the Logic of Libertarianism and Why Intellectual Property Doesn’t Exist (2012)
  3. Libertarianism After Fifty Years: What Have We Learned? (2014)


  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

Reviews & Comments

  • “Henceforth, then, all essential studies in the philosophy of law and the field of legal theory will have to take full account of the theories and criticisms expounded by Kinsella.” —From the Foreword, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
    • re Hoppe’s Foreword: “One of the most powerful pieces I ever read.”
    • For an explanation of the “Easter Egg” in Hoppe’s Foreword, see here.
  • “Your book blew my mind. I wasn’t familiar with your (and Hoppe’s) views, and when I came across argumentation ethics and estoppel, I had to set the book down because of the power of the concept itself, it took me 3 or 4 days of profound thinking to start really understanding it and I can say that it is the most persuasive propsotion I’ve ever heard. It sounds like the last nail in the coffin for all non libertarian political philosophies.”
  • “This book is truly exceptional and a must-read for anyone with a genuine interest in the principles of liberty. Stephan Kinsella’s work presents perhaps the most consistently coherent theory of libertarianism I’ve encountered.”
  • From Amazon: “Must read for all property based anarchists.”
    “I was first introduced to Stefan Kinsella through his work on intellectual property, which is also very much present in this book. I will say that in order to best appreciate this work, reading some Rothbard and Hoppe at the very least would work wonders. If you have read these works, this is an absolute must-read. Hoppe writes a fantastic introduction.”The book goes fantastically in-depth on an entire range of libertarian issues. The application of estoppel and the author’s extensive legal knowledge to the problems of an anarchic legal system is fantastic, and it expands upon areas that previously wide-read libertarian books have failed to address. The footnotes exhibit a lot more than just sourcing, they serve as clarifications and context for the ideas proposed within the work.
    “This book approaches anarchy from a legal perspective and stands as one of the greatest works in the field of liberty. I found myself discussing this book with my right libertarian friends, and it sparked some constructive conversations.”
  • “I believe that once the dust settles, LFFS will rank with Ethics of Liberty and Theory of Socialism and Capitalism as one of the libertarian greats.”
  • From a friend whose son in college just went on a family vacation with parents and friends: “X is about half way through your book. Says he is really enjoying it. We had a long conversation about several of the topics he learned for the first time. We went into [city] today but he just wanted to stay in the cabin and read (and sleep). Contract theory, common law vs legislated law, alienation of the will. No one talks about this anywhere else.”
  • See also Mark Maresca’s review of LFFS on Amazon (also on his substack). Excerpt: “This is Kinsella’s critical and timely contribution. His book compiles many years of research and thinking regarding that key pillar: law. He shows how disputes are handled absent the State under systems of voluntary competitive legal arrangements. Importantly, he explains the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of a free society’s legal framework.
    Kinsella brings his legal skills to bear in several ways. He uses clear language; words are defined (we are not left with a vague and fuzzy mush of terminology). He supports what he says: the book is heavily footnoted with in-depth appendices where needed. His thinking is integrated: he presents legal perspectives that connect the dots between economics, traditional common law, civil law, and case law; and his legal analysis crosses time and territory (U.S., State-level, English and Roman, for example). He is relentlessly logical (e.g., his arguments against all forms of so-called Intellectual Property are, for all practical purposes, bullet-proof).
    Stephan Kinsella’s Legal Foundations of a Free Society explains how a stateless society can follow common sense norms and maintain stability. He emphasizes how practical law cannot be legislated: ”Law has to arise from custom, from contract, from agreement, from decentralized processes…”. He clarifies that property lies at the root of any attempted social system. And that only the anarcho-libertarian model is coherent and consistent in its approach to reducing conflict.
    Advocates of freedom often view a stateless society as a new condition awaiting us at an unspecified future time. Kinsella gives us reasons to see that its emergence is perhaps already underway, as man’s moral sensibilities mature past the myth of the State. If freedom is in our future, scholarly works such as this will help smooth the transition.”

Selected Supplementary Material

Important Prerequisite Works

Intellectual Property-Related


Books and Articles

Blog Posts & Articles

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