Book Review: The Free Market Existentialist by William Irwin

I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing The Free Market Existentialist by William Irwin. While the title and description may read more like an academic text; I was very interested in Irwin's unique combination of philosophy, politics, and economics. What did I think of The Free Market Existentialist? 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review. All opinions are my own.

Quick Summary of The Free Market Existentialist: THE FREE MARKET EXISTENTIALIST is unique because it is the first existentialist defense of libertarianism, bringing together two approaches that traditionally have been viewed as incompatible. Existentialists emphasize the importance of subjectively choosing one’s values and determining the meaning of one’s life. Libertarians champion strong property rights and the individual’s prerogative to live in any way that does not cause harm to others. Ultimately, individualism is the link between existentialism and libertarianism, producing a philosophy that values freedom and a corresponding responsibility.


· Why existentialism is the ideal balancing agent, the perfect partner for capitalism, allowing us to reap the benefits of a free market while encouraging us to resist crass consumerism.

· Why a free market existentialist must take the responsibility to choose work that he or she finds meaningful rather than aimlessly drifting into work that is alienating.

· Why the income tax is tantamount to theft and should be repealed. Instead, an “equal tax” policy is a better alternative, wherein the state is conceived as a club in which members pay equal dues for equal benefits.

· How evolutionary theory fits with existentialism to help us confront the “final delusion” of objective values.

· How love and law can largely replace the motivating role of conventional morality.

Not ending a debate but aiming to start one, Irwin proposes free market existentialism as a new competitor in the marketplace of ideas.

In clear and accessible prose, The Free Market Existentialist begins an important conversation for the 21st century that will be of interest to scholars, students, and the general public alike.

The Free Market Existentialist Presents a Well Rounded Argument. Irwin flawlessly lays the groundwork for the book's theories and piques the reader's interest in the first few pages. He explains the basics of his theories and defines terms and ideologies in a very clear, concise manner with intelligently written--yet easy to follow--text. Irwin did not simply pose a theory--he opened a possibility. He creates a "middle ground" of thought--and thoroughly examines and defends his theories and correlations.

The Free Market Existentialist was a Surprise. I am an engineer and scientist by training--and a writer by circumstance. My husband is the economist. I had originally planned for him to read and review this book as I wasn't sure that I could effectively analyze the author's work. I was expecting a heavy handed, philosophical, college textbook-like piece. I was surprised to find how well the author was able to present his concepts to both scholars of the subjects--and those simply interested in the subjects. It isn't a light read by any means--but, it is certainly not a book intended only for students of the subjects at hand. 

Would I recommend The Free Market Existentialist? This book takes an in-depth look at our world--and encourages readers to question "definitions" as we know them. He makes a very viable defense of the free market as he considers values and responsibilities of the individual. Early in the book, Irwin positioned himself within the intersection of a Venn diagram illustrating Libritarianism, Existentialism, and Anti-Realism. After reading this book, I do not believe he is alone in his position. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the philosophical and economic principles at play in our world.

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Author's Bio:

William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Intentionalist Interpretation and scholarly articles on Sartre, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Irwin originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy in 1999 and is currently the General Editor of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series.

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