By Stuart Henry
After three flights and over 24 hours of travel, I ended my journey from Charleston, SC in Bodrum, Turkey for the annual salon of the Property and Freedom Society. The PFS is an organization in the tradition of the Austrian school of economics devoted to the advancement of individual liberty through protection and promotion of “justly acquired private property, freedom of contract, freedom of association, [and] unconditional free trade.”
The week-long salon consisted of a series of daily presentations from academics hailing from a variety of fields including economics, philosophy, political science, and history. In between lectures, attendees would have a chance to reflect on each speech with one another and also chat with the speakers themselves about their speeches. Additionally, speakers and attendees would convene each day for meals where they could engage in further discussion and debate.
The word “conference” is not the right term for the PFS. Conference conjures up an image of some corporate gathering of strangers at a booked out Marriott somewhere. This gathering, or salon, as the PFS describes itself, was a truly intimate experience that made for the ideal environment to foster intellectual development. It felt much more like a classroom in that sense. My favorite aspect of the meeting was how everyone was so approachable and open to bounce ideas back and forth with. I never got tired of chatting with anybody and I felt like all the attendees had so much personally to bring to the table.
To be surrounded by such a well-read and intelligent bunch was humbling to say the least, but it was also mentally invigorating. I left feeling inspired to continue my academic journey wherever it leads, so that one day I, too, will be able to make equally valuable contributions to one or more of these fields.
My favorite speech from the event would have to be Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s speech on the failure of Ontological Naturalism. He takes a stance in favor of Methodological dualism. He emphasizes the vital importance of needing to use different methodologies when studying economics, a study of human action, versus hard sciences, which study the natural world.
All in all, attending this meeting allowed me to forge new friendships with some extraordinary people of all backgrounds and hear new perspectives. Having the ability to continuously share and challenge ideas with others with such methodological rigor was an amazing experience. It was an honor to attend this annual salon and I thank the School of Humanities and Social Sciences for helping make my attendance possible. I am confident that this experience will have a benefit beyond myself and help me provide material in my classes here at the College of Charleston to facilitate deeper and meaningful discussions with my peers.
Stuart is a political science major at the College and a member of the CofC Sailing Team.