Liberalism

Edexcel A2 Notes
- Combination of class notes, Andrew Heywood Political Ideologies (5th Edition)  

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What is Liberalism?
Liberalism is an ideology, it believes:
Human nature: egotistical/ self interest
Freedom: individual autonomy
Society: Individualistic (but should tolerate each other)
What is classical liberalism?
It is a tradition within Liberalism which that seeks to maximise the realm of unconstrained
individual action typically by establishing a minimal state and reliance on market economy
Origins
The feudal system
1. Kings
2. Nobles
3. Peasants: They were `serfs' worked for nobles. They had no concept of individual, limited
choice and strict hierarchy
Industrial Capitalism (17th Century ­ 19th Century)
This created:
Industrial responsibility
Rural or urban industrial choices
This is when LIBERALISM EMERGED- RESPONSE TO SOCIAL CHANGE!!
Enlightenment challenged `divine right'
The idea of `natural rights' for all individuals
Classical liberal thinkers:
Immanuel Kant (1724 ­ 1804)
John Locke (1632- 1704)
Fundamental aspects of Liberalism (both classical and modern)
Human nature is rational
Rationalism (the belief that knowledge flows from reason than tradition or faith)
Emerged during the Enlightenment. It:
Strengthened the faith in both individual and freedom- humans are rational, thinking
creatures > capable of pursuing their own interests
Oppose paternalism
`the power of reason' ­ gives humans being capacity to change their own lives
Rational humans should be able to resolve disagreemens through peaceful discussion
and debate without resorting to violence
Individualism: rights and interests of every individual is primary
Was written in the notes before
Freedom: rational individuals deserve economic, social and political freedom
o Freedom (the ability to think or act as one wishes)
o For early liberals > natural rights ( life, liberty and property)
o Individuals to make their own choices
o `Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign' ­ J.S
Mill

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Two freedoms: Negative and Positive
How do classical liberals view...…read more

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Economic liberalism
Social Darwinism
Neo- liberalism
Natural rights (God given rights to human being which are entitled to humans)
All humans have natural rights for merely being humans
Right to `life, liberty and property' ­ John Locke
Social contract between government and the people
The purpose of the state to protect individuals `natural rights'
Utilitarianism (moral philosophy- the greater happiness' principle)
Maximise pleasure and minimise pain
Influenced classical liberalism- each individual able to perceive their own best interests
Key Classical liberal thinkers FR= French Revolution…read more

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Does egoism produce social justice? (outcomes> poverty, illiteracy, the `haves' and the `have
nots'
Liberal ideas of the state therefore EVOLVED
Welfare : Helps the people to help themselves
Role of the state
State should act as a vehicle to enhance liberty
This is to create positive freedom through state intervention
The welfare state: `help people to help themselves'
Provide social contracts which individuals are able to prosper e.g. education, health
etc.…read more

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John Rawls (1921- 2002)
Developed theory `justice as fairness' based on the belief that behind `the veil of
ignorance' most people accept liberty of each should be compatible with a like liberty for
all
Social inequality justified if it benefits the poorest of society
Key Principles of Modern Liberalism
Individuality
Positive freedom
Social liberalism
Economic management
Liberal Democracy: Although they dislike concentrations of power, they try to keep this as minimal
as possible
How do liberals ensure liberal democracy?
Constitutionalism :enforce rules which limit government…read more

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