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Origins and development:

Liberalism was originally viewed as a radical/revolutionary ideology.
Liberal ideas were evident in-
o The American Revolution (1776)
o The French Revolution (1789)
Liberalism challenged existing order and political systems such as
Feudalism, absolute monarchy and the `divine right of kings'.
Liberalism was born out of…

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o Individuals are unique with specific attributes and abilities.
o Individuals are of equal moral worth.
o Individuals are equally deserving of certain legal and political rights
such as the right to vote (universal suffrage).
o Individuals are equally entitles to natural rights- These are innate
human rights which are…

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However the state MUST exist.
o The state protects us from each other.
We are sometimes tempted to exploit others using our
rational self-interest.
The rational act may be against another individual.
o The liberty of one person is always in danger of becoming a
licence to abuse the liberty…

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Separation of powers leads to checks and balances on government which
liberals support.
The principle that legislative, executive and judicial power should be
separated through the construction of three independent branches of
An example of the separation of powers is the US system: congress,
Supreme Court and presidency.


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Views the state as a `necessary evil' or `night-watchman'. The role of the
state is to protect order in society and protect people from each other.
However, this can lead to limited freedom and responsibility for the
Core principles:
o Humans are rational and self-interested.
o Assert the primacy…

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o Interference through a paternalistic state would effectively reward
idleness and incompetence as well as preventing individual
o `The drunk in the gutter is just where he ought to be' ­William Sumner
Neo Liberalism and economic theory
o Influenced by the economic ideas of Adam Smith.
The `invisible hand',…

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o Their opportunity to better themselves was hindered by poverty,
poor health and education, squalid living and working conditions
o Minimal state had actually minimised freedom.
o Liberals began to move away from negative to positive freedom-
the capacity of people to make real choices regarding education,
employment, leisure and…

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May be necessary to create a budget deficit for the greater
economic good.


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