The meaning of Liberalism, particularly concerning individualism, capitalism and welfare. 30 Marks

The meaning of Liberalism, Particularly liberal ideas and values concerning the individual, capitalism and welfare. 30 Marks

The meaning of liberalism:

  • Liberalism is the ideology of the industrialised west
  • Influenced by the enlightenment belief in universal reason
  • It has sought to establish fundamental values and champion a particular vision of human flourishing or excellence, usually linked to personal autonomy
  • During the 20th Century it became fashionable to portray liberalism as morally neutral
  • Liberalism gives priority to 'the right' over 'the good' 
  • Liberalism strives to establish the conditions in which people and groups can pursue the good life as each defines it but it does not prescribe of try to promote any particular notion of what is good.
  • Liberalism is not simply an ideology but a 'meta-ideology' - a body of rules that lays down the grounds on which political and ideological debate can take place
  • It undoubtedly favours openess, debate and self-determination
  • Liberalism is characterised by a powerful moral thrust
  • The moral and ideological stance of liberalism is embodied in a commitment to a distinctive set of values and beliefs
  • The latin liber reffered to a class of 'free men' 
  • The central theme of liberal ideology is a commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society in which people can satify their interest and acheive fulfilment


  • Individuals are thought to possess personal and distinctive qualities each was of special value
  • KANT - expressed a belief in the dignity and equal worth of human beings in his conception of individuals as 'ends in themselves' and not merely as means for the acheivement of the ends of others
  • Emphasisng the importance of the individual drwas attention to the


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