Bruno Leoni
Bruno Leoni (1913-1967).jpg
Born(1913-04-26)26 April 1913
Died21 November 1967(1967-11-21) (aged 54)
Cause of deathMurdered
Alma materUniversity of Pavia
Notable workFreedom and the Law
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
InstitutionsMont Pelerin Society
Main interests
Politics, law, economy
Notable ideas
Public choice, economic analysis of law
Influences (foundation)

Bruno Leoni (26 April 1913 – 21 November 1967) was an Italian classical-liberal political philosopher and lawyer. Whilst the war kept Leoni away from teaching, in 1945 he became Full professor of Philosophy of Law. Leoni was also appointed Dean of the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pavia from 1948 to 1960.[1]


Leoni fought in World War II as part of the “A Force”, an organization that rescued prisoners of war (POWs) in Italy after 1943.

Leoni was the founder and editor of the political science journal Il Politico.[2] He was also involved as secretary and later president of the Mont Pelerin Society.[3]

Following Richard Posner, Leoni has been also one of the fathers of the Law and Economics school.

Leoni died prematurely (aged 54) in Alpignano, under tragic circumstances, killed in 1967 by Osvaldo Quero.[4]

In 2003, Italian libertarian scholars Carlo Lottieri, Alberto Mingardi [it] and Carlo Stagnaro [fr] founded the Bruno Leoni Institute, a free-market think-tank.


Bruno Leoni was a student of Austrian economics and he applied its core insights to legislation. According to Leoni, just as a central planner lacks the information that emerges in a market, a legislator lacks the information that emerges in case law.

Bruno Leoni’s thought had an impact both on law and economics and on contemporary libertarianism. For Leoni, liberty consists of keeping the lives of people and the resources they command out of the political sphere as much as possible. Thus, law should filter, rather than facilitate, the tendency toward the full politicization of human life.[5]

Leoni believes that, in the long run, a system centered on legislation is fundamentally incompatible with the maintenance of a free society. Partly, this is because of the inherent temptations that legislation provides for rent-seekers and other parties seeking to oppress or plunder non-consenting losers in the political process. Partly it also has to do with the inherent instability of the legislative process and the relative predictability of the common law process, properly understood.[6]

In what it is probably his most important work, Freedom and the Law, Leoni makes the observation that for the free market to function effectively it is necessary for private individuals to have a stable legal framework in which to plan and be confident that their plans will be carried through to fruition. Moreover, for individuals to free from oppression it is necessary for government to announce their rules in advance so that individuals can know what is their permitted range of freedom (what is often, although imprecisely, referred to as the “rule of law”).[7]

Leoni’s thought had a strong impact on important thinkers like James M. Buchanan, Friedrich von Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard and Gordon Tullock.



  1. ^ "Riscoprire Bruno Leoni". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Rivista "IL Politico"". University of Pavia. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Past Presidents | MPS". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  4. ^ Merlo, Cristian (18 February 2013). "Bruno Leoni, un "austriaco" di adozione - Ludwig von Mises Italia". Ludwig von Mises Italia (in Italian). Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  5. ^ Mingardi, Alberto (25 April 2013). "Bruno Leoni's Lesson". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  6. ^ Zywicki, Todd (17 July 2014). "When Friedrich Hayek Met Bruno Leoni - Law & Liberty". Law & Liberty. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Freedom and the Law (1961 ed.) - Online Library of Liberty". Retrieved 20 December 2017.