Liberalism Core Values

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  • Liberalism core values
    • Reason (human nature)
      • Optimistic faith in human nature - unlike conservatives they believe that knowledge can be explained from reason alone
      • This is reflected in the enlightenment reason and key thinkers were Bentham and Adam Smith
      • This believe in reason and rationalism has led liberals to oppose paternalism as it prevents ndividuals from making their own moral choices
    • Freedom
      • Classical liberals = negative freedom [no constraints - inevitably leads to poverty]
      • Progressive liberals = positive freedom [constraints by gov allow people to fulfil potential]
      • Supreme political value for liberals in many ways
      • Individuals do not have absolute entitlement to freedom
        • "the only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over of civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" - Mills harm principle
    • Individualism
      • Individuals are thought to posses personal and distinctive qualities
      • Immanuel Kant expressed a similar belief in equal worth of humans and that individuals were "ends in themselves"
      • Some liberals believe that society is simply a collection of individuals
    • Toleration
      • Willingness to accept different ideas
      • View shared by Voltaire - "I detest what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it"
      • This value is important as it allows individual freedom and is linked to pluralism
    • Justice (rights)
      • Justice refers to the fair treatment of people
      • The liberal theory of justice is based on a belief in equality and that all humans are born equal
      • People should have equal opportunity to demonstrate their worth which led to a belief in meritocracy


Old Sir


A mind map like this is a very good way of testing the links between major factors. Students might wish to explore the links shown here and use this exemplar to develop their own versions as part of their active revision. This one lists the major factors, (although 'Toleration' should be replaced by 'Tolerance'), but does not refer to examples of these factors at work in modern politics. - This is the next stage.

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