In this impressive work Henry Hazlitt explores the proper foundation of morality, offering a unified theory of laws, morals, and manners. Noted economist Leland Yeager, in his foreword to this edition, says that The Foundations of Morality “provides . . . the soundest philosophical basis for the humane society that is the ideal of classical liberals.”
“Positive law and "positive" morality are both products of a long historical growth. They grew together, as part of an undifferentiated tradition and custom that included religion. But law tended to become secular and independent of theology sooner than did ethics. It also became more definite and explicit. Anglo-American common law, in particular, grew through customs of judicial decision. Individual judges realized, implicitly if not explicitly, that law and the application of law must be certain, uniform, predictable. They tried to solve individual cases upon their "merits"; but they recognized that their decision in one case must be "consistent" with their decision in another, and that the decisions of one court must be consistent with those of others, so that they would not easily be overthrown on appeal.”
Henry Stuart Hazlitt (November 28, 1894 – July 9, 1993) was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist for various publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and Newsweek. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an important libertarian publication. In 1946 Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal text on free market economics, which Ayn Rand referred to as doing a "...magnificent job of theoretical exposition." Hazlitt is credited with bringing his ideas and those of the so-called Austrian School to the American economics scene and his work has influenced the likes of economist Ludwig von Mises, novelist and essayist Ayn Rand, and 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee and congressman, Ron Paul.
Hazlitt was a prolific writer, authoring 25 works in his lifetime.
Ludwig von Mises said at a dinner honoring Hazlitt: "In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader. You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries... You are the economic conscience of our country and of our nation."