Libertarianism is a social and political philosophy in the Western liberal tradition committed to the advancement of personal liberty. It is distinguished from egalitarianism by its views on property rights and the use of force. Although the term libertarianism did not first appear in political discourse until the 1950s, its conceptual framework was firmly established in the 18th and 19th centuries by political economists and philosophers in the “classical liberal” tradition, most notably John Locke and John Stuart Mill. Despite marginal theoretical disagreement, most libertarians agree that the principles of self-ownership and nonaggression are foundational. This entry discusses these principles and also libertarian views on free market economic policies and the role of government. The entry examines the implications of these for business.

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