David Gordon (philosopher)

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Not to be confused with David Gordon (economist).
David Gordon
Blumert Rockwell Gordon Rothbard.jpg
Born (1948-04-07) April 7, 1948 (age 66)
Nationality American
Education Doctorate in intellectual history.
Alma mater University of California Los Angeles
Occupation Libertarian philosopher and intellectual historian

David Gordon (/ˈɡɔrdən/; born 1948) is an American libertarian philosopher and intellectual historian influenced by Rothbardian views of economics.[1] Peter J. Boettke, in his Reason Foundation "Reason Papers," Issue No. 19, Fall 1994,[2] describes Gordon as "a philosopher and intellectual historian who is deeply influenced by the Rothbardian strand of economics." He is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and editor of The Mises Review.[3]

Gordon received degrees from University of California Los Angeles, including a Doctorate in intellectual history. He has contributed to scholarly publications such as Analysis, International Philosophical Quarterly,[3] The Journal of Libertarian Studies, The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics,[4] Social Philosophy and Policy[5] and Econ Journal Watch.[6] He also has been published in The Orange County Register,[7] The American Conservative[8] and The Freeman.[9]

Gordon’s 1991 book Resurrecting Marx: The Analytical Marxists on Freedom, Exploitation, and Justice was described by Mises Institute scholar Yuri Maltsev as "a refutation of neo-Marxist attempts to save the system from itself."[10] The book, which answers the arguments of Marxist political philosophers, including Gerald Cohen, Jon Elster and John Roemer, dismisses every form of Marxism as theoretically unviable.[11] The American Political Science Review said Gordon's argument was "rather crude": capitalism could not be exploitative, and laissez-faire capitalism could serve a just world. Therefore, Gordon concludes, Marxism is "a complete failure."[12] Contemporary Sociology said Gordon failed to show that analytical Marxists were "a formidable weapon in the hands of anti-Marxists" such as himself.[1] Gordon was said to have shown little competency in anti-Marxist argument, falling into "easily avoided mistakes."[1] The Review of Metaphysics assessed the book more positively, describing how Gordon successfully accomplished his explicit goal of demonstrating how Cohen, Elster and Roemer had failed to "rehabilitate Marx's economic theories".[13] The review pointed out that Gordon's book gave evidence of an unstated second goal, that of Gordon justifying his own libertarian stance, and that this portion of the book was "by far the most stimulating".[13] Oxford political scientist David Leopold noted Gordon's thumbnail test regarding whether a writer could be classified as an analytical Marxist: Gordon wrote that a favorable stance on dialectics meant that the writer must be "crossed off the list."[14]

Gordon's book The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics, which explores the philosophical origins of Carl Menger’s economic theories, was highly praised by Murray Rothbard.[15] Writing in The Review of Austrian Economics, Barry Smith criticized the book for its over-simplistic division of philosophers into two camps—German (Hegelian, organicist and anti-science) and Austrian (Aristotelian, individualist and pro-science)—despite the philosophers having more complex interrelations, for instance Franz Brentano who is exemplary of Austrian thought though he was born in Germany and was strongly influenced by German philosopher Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg.[16] Gordon later wrote "Second thoughts on The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics" to provide some additions and corrections.[17]

Gordon edited Secession, State & Liberty, a collection of eleven essays which make the case that secession should be given serious consideration. The essays examine American history, look at theoretical issues and apply theory to the modern world.[18]

Murray Rothbard described Gordon as a friend and "Mr. Erudition."[19] In Hans-Hermann Hoppe's The Myth of National Defense, Luigi Marco Bassani and Carlo Lottieri described him as the "semiofficial reviewer of the libertarian community."[20] Brian Doherty, in his Radicals for Capitalism, writes that Gordon is "the only man around who knows as much as Rothbard did when it comes to the historical, philosophical and economic background of libertarianism."[21] In an editorial The Orange Country Register described Gordon as a "polymath."[7]

In 1985 Gordon worked with professor Walter Block on a law review article called "Extortion and the Exercise of Free Speech Rights" which explores contradictions and paradoxes in laws against blackmail and the conditions under which such laws are acceptable.[22][23]

In 2011 Econ Journal Watch published an article Gordon wrote with Swedish consultant Per Nilsson called "The Ideological Profile of Harvard University Press: Categorizing 494 Books Published 2000–2010." They presented a spread sheet analysis of the books, some of which they had not read, and concluded the Harvard press’s political slant’s problem "is not that it is ideological, but that its ideology is predominately leftist." A reviewer noted that one author did not consider his book "leftist" and that the reason other books were so characterized was not clear.[6][24]



  1. ^ a b c Smith, David Norman (November 1992). "Book review: Resurrecting Marx". Contemporary Sociology 21 (6): 872. doi:10.2307/2075699. "...libertarian philosopher David Gordon..." 
  2. ^ review of Resurrecting Marx
  3. ^ a b David Gordon biography at Ludwig von Mises Institute web site.
  4. ^ David Gordon Literature Archive, Ludwig von Mises Institute listing.
  5. ^ David Gordon, "Marxism, Dictatorship, and the Abolition of Rights", Social Philosophy and Policy (1986), 3: 145–159, Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ a b David Gordon with Per Nilsson, The Ideological Profile of Harvard University Press: Categorizing 494 Books Published 2000–2010, Econ Journal Watch, Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2011
  7. ^ a b "A liberty round table: Libertarian think tank brings its bracing philosophy to Costa Mesa", The Orange County Register, May 10, 2006.
  8. ^ Going Off the Rawls; Libertarians have adopted the Left’s favorite modern philosopher, The American Conservative, July 28, 2008 Issue.
  9. ^ David Gordon, "Murray Rothbard's Philosophy of Freedom", The Freeman, Foundation for Economic Education, November 2007, Volume: 57, Issue: 9.
  10. ^ Yuri N. Maltsev, Requiem for Marx, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1993, p 29, ISBN 978-1-61016-116-9
  11. ^ David Boaz, The Libertarian Reader, Simon & Schuster, 1998, p 447.
  12. ^ Wright, Bruce E. (1992) "Review of David Gordon’s Resurrecting Marx," American Political Science Review, Volume 86, Issue 2, Page 510
  13. ^ a b Gottfried, Paul (June 1991). "Book review: Resurrecting Marx". The Review of Metaphysics 44 (4): 842–843. 
  14. ^ Leopold, David (2008). "Dialectical Approaches". In David Leopold, Marc Stears. Political Theory: methods and approaches. Oxford University Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-19-923009-9. 
  15. ^ Murray Rothbard, The Present State of Austrian Economics, paper delivered October 9, 1992; reprinted in The Logic of Action One: Method, Money, and the Austrian School, Glos, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 1997, pp. 111–172. Rothbard writes: "For a brilliant and incisive discussion and demolition of the logical empiricist contention on many levels, see David Gordon, The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics."
  16. ^ Barry Smith The philosophy of Austrian economics, Review of David Gordon’s The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics, The Review of Austrian Economics, Volume 7, Number 2, 127–132, doi:10.1007/BF01101946
  17. ^ David Gordon, "Second thoughts on The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics", The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 7, No. 2.
  18. ^ George C. Leef, A Feast of Challenges to the Conventional Wisdom, a review of Secession, State & Liberty, Freeman On Line, 1998.
  19. ^ Murray N. Rothbard, "Mr. Bush’s shooting war," February, 1991, published in Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Editor, The Irrepressible Rothbard: The Rothbard-Rockwell Report Essays of Murray N. Rothbard, Center for Libertarian Studies, 2000, ISBN 978-1-883959-02-9
  20. ^ Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The myth of national defense, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2003, p 22, ISBN 978-0-945466-37-6
  21. ^ Murray Rothbard, Strictly Confidential: The Private Volker Fund Memos of Murray N. Rothbard, Publisher Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010, p. x, in foreword by Brian Doherty, ISBN 978-1-933550-80-0
  22. ^ J Feinberg, The paradox of blackmail, Ratio Juris, 1988, Wiley Online Library.
  23. ^ Walter Block and David Gordon, "Extortion and the Exercise of Free Speech Rights: A Reply to Professors Posner, Epstein, Nozick and Lindgren," Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 19, no. 1, November 1985, pp. 37–54.
  24. ^ Nina Ayoub, "Harvard Press Leans Left, Economists Say", Chronicle of Higher Education, January 25, 2011.
  25. ^ Description of Gordon’s The Essential Rothbard written with access to Rothbard's private correspondence.

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