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  • Created on: 10-05-16 17:48

The justifications for classical Liberalism

Natural Rights


Economic Liberalism

Social Darwinism


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Natural Rights

Everyone is born equal because everyone is created by God

Locke believed rights are invested in humans by God

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Jeramy Bentham and Mill

"Greatest happiness for the greatest number"

Individaul can percieve own best interest

Therefore, individual should be left alone to find their own happiness as rationl self interested beings

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Economic Liberalism

Adam Smith

He saw the economy as a series of interrelated markets

Market operates on impersonal pressures

Market is self regulating and should be free to be managed by the "invisable hand"

Belief in laissez faire economics

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Social Darwinism

Those with the willingness to work will prosper and those who dont wont

William Summer - "the drunkard in the gutter is extactly where he ought to be"

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A form of market fundamentalism - absolute faith in the market

Hayek - Critiques central planning saying it does not work

Haayek -

1) Markets are self regulating like a nervous system

2) Naturally efficient - Profit motive

3) Responsive. Produces produce only what consumers are willing to buy

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What are the key characterisitcs of classical libe

1) Egoistical individualism - Humans are rationally self interested creates who have a capacity for self reliance. Atomistic society

2) Negative freedom - Freedom is the absence of external restraints

3) State is a "necessary evil" - Thomas Paine. Believe in a nightwatchmen state

4) Positive view of civil society. Believe in a self regulting market economy

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What are the distinctive ideas of modern liberals?


Positive freedom

Social Liberlaism

Economic management

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Liberal ideas on individuality

Individuality - Self realisation of the unique qualities

Mills higher and lower pleasures

Wanted to promote intellectual pleasures

Therefore laces emphasis on human flourishing

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Modern Liberals on Positive freedom

T.H. Green - unrestrained pursuit of profit had given way to a new type of poverty

Belived in altruism to a dregree and that the individual has social responsiblities

Green believed freedom is the ability to develop and attain individuality

Endorses an enabling state e.g. welfare state

Share the view of self reliant individuals

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Social Liberalism

The welfare state - state that takes primary responsibility for social welfare through services

Provides equality of opportunity

Overcome the five giants in the Beveridge report

Want, dicease, ingorance, squalor and idleness

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Economic management

Keynes rejected the idea of a self regulating market

When unemployment is high governments should reflate there economies by borrowing money

Then the government should focus on employment and increase growth levels

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Core themes of lLiberalism as a whole






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Supreme importance of indivudual over any group

Egoistical vs developmental

Uniqueness of each human being

Atomistic vs altruistic

Methodological individualism - Individual central to any political theory

Ethical individualism - Society should be constructed to benefit the individual

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Freedom - ability to think or act as one wishes

Do not have an absolute right to freedom

Mills - Self and other regarding actions

Negative freedom - abscense of exernal restrictions

Positive freedom - Self realisation through development

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Case for freedom defined by reason

Liberlaism  from the Enlightenment

Human beings are rational human beings capable of pursuing own best interests

View history in terms of progress as progress helps to better the world

Each generation able to better themselves because of reason

Why they place lots of importance on education

Reason is why liberals highlight the importance of discussion to stop conflict

War seen as a last resort

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Moral standard of fairness

Foundational equality

Formal equality

Equality of opportunity

Not equality of outcome

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Tolerance - Accept things which one disagrees with

Voltaire - "I detest what you say but will defend to the death your right tot say it"

Goal of personal autonomy

Came from Locke defending religous freedom

Mill - toleration a guarantee for personal autonomy.

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The Liberal state

State is necessary

Locke freedom can only exist "under the law"

Locke's social contract - give up some personal freedom in order to have security

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Government power threatens the individual

Humans are self seeking so will use power for own benefit

Lord Acton - "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutaly."

They want to tame the government

Can be limited though externnal constrainst such as a written constitution or a bill of rights

In additional can use internal constraints - "power shoud check power" - Montesquieu

Seperation of powers, cabinet government, parliamentory government and federalism

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Liberal democracy

Guarantee civil liberty and civil society.

Civil liberty - private sphere

Civil society - Real of autonomous associations formed by citizens

Regular elections, universal suffrage and political equality

Fear of "tyranny of the majoirty" - Alexis de Tocqueville

Checks and blances to stop majoritrianism

Mill believed many people are not educated enough to have the political wisdosm necessary

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