Core Principles of Liberalism

  • Created by: s_yu
  • Created on: 26-05-22 22:55
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  • Core principles of Liberalism
    • Individualism
      • Emmanuel Kant: People should not be treated as an instrument to achieve a goal but should be viewed as the  end goal themselves; people posses their own intrinsic value.
      • 'Egoistical individualism' - Classical liberalism - people are self seeking and self reliant (society is only a collection of independant individuals.)
      • 'Developmental individualism' - Modern liberals - Individual freedom is linked to create a society wherein each person can flourish but those who are disadvantaged may need state intervention.
      • Tolerance = willingness to accept values, customs and differing beliefs E.g: liberals have relaxed view on same-sex relationships as they are private lifestyle choices
    • Liberty
      • Early liberals rejected the way governments made decisions on behalf of the people regulating their behaviour/ Modern liberals understood that freedom could not be absolute and in order to protect people, freedom must be exercised under the law
      • John Locke: "the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom... where ther is no law, there is no freedom"
      • Jeremy Bentham: People are motivated by rational self interest where they pursue pleasure and avoid pain - "the greatest happiness for the greatest number". Gov should only prevent ppl from doing what they choose if it threatens others' freedom
      • John Stuart Mill: People should only be restrained if their actions affect others (Negative Freedom)
        • T.H. Green: Found Mill's concept of liberty too limited. Argued that society was an organic whole where the people peruse a common good as well as their own interests. Positive Freedom: People have the capacity to to realise their own potential and achieve self- fulfilment.
    • The state
      • Liberals accept the need for a state to prevent disorder but a wary of people's tendency to be delf seeking porbably at the expense of others
        • Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"
      • Liberals favour a limited gov: includes constituitonalism (gov is distributed through branches of power and limited by a set of laws), checks and balances (each branch of power checks eachother) and a bill of rights which defines the relationship between citizens and state.
      • Liberals favour devolution due to suspicion over the concentration of political power - 1990s UK devolved bodies/ Federalism in USA where each state retains responsibilty for its own interna affairs
      • Liberals favour laissez-fraie capitalism
        • Adam Smith: "it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for thier own interest"
    • Rationalism
      • Liberals encouraged by the Enlightenment to allow individuals to freely think for themselves without guidance from authorities - faith in reason > progressive society
      • Modern liberals support the League of Nations and the UN which soughts to bring countries together to debate disputes by surrendering some sovereignty
      • Classical liberals believed there should be a neutral third party to resolve conflict  - war is last resort (last resort)
    • Social Justice
      • Traditionally liberals believe that everyone should enjoy the same legal and political rights  + equality of opportuinty
      • Mary Wollstonecraft: women should have the same rights to persue a career and own property when married - until 20th century liberals did not exted all rights to women
        • Modern liberals believe true equality is not possible without social justice. John Rawls: attmepted to reconcile liberal individualism with prevention of inequality
      • William Gladstone believed in a meritocracy - introduced competitive exams to the civil serviece in 1870s  (individuals with different talents should be rewarded differently)
    • Liberal Democracy
      • Classical liberals: free and fair elections, limited government, tolerance of diff views -  promoting consensus
      • John Locke's social contract and Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan
      • Mill proposed more votes to the educated, alienating the uneducated masses
        • Modern liberals would not agree with this as they agree with universal suffrage


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