If it is to serve as the basis for public reasoning in our diverse western societies, liberalism must be restricted to a core set of political principles that are, or can be, the subject of consensus among all reasonable citizens. Liberal theories form a broad continuum, from those that constitute full-blown philosophical systems, to those that rely on a full theory of value and the good, to those that rely on a theory of the right but not the good , all the way to those that seek to be purely political doctrines.
Nevertheless, it is important to appreciate that, though liberalism is primarily a political theory, it has been associated with broader theories of ethics, value and society. Indeed, many believe that liberalism cannot rid itself of all controversial metaphysical Hampton, or epistemological Raz, commitments. Following Wilhelm von Humboldt  , in On Liberty Mill argues that one basis for endorsing freedom Mill believes there are many , is the goodness of developing individuality and cultivating capacities:.
This is not just a theory about politics: it is a substantive, perfectionist, moral theory about the good. On this view, the right thing to do is to promote development or perfection, but only a regime securing extensive liberty for each person can accomplish this Wall, This moral ideal of human perfection and development dominated liberal thinking in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and much of the twentieth: not only Mill, but T.
Green, L. Hobhouse, Bernard Bosanquet, John Dewey and even Rawls show allegiance to variants of this perfectionist ethic and the claim that it provides a foundation for endorsing a regime of liberal rights Gaus, a. That the good life is necessarily a freely chosen one in which a person develops his unique capacities as part of a plan of life is probably the dominant liberal ethic of the past century. On this view, respect for the personhood of others demands that we refrain from imposing our view of the good life on them.
Only principles that can be justified to all respect the personhood of each. We thus witness the tendency of recent liberal theory Reiman, ; Scanlon, to transform the social contract from an account of the state to an overall justification of morality, or at least a social morality.
A moral code that could be the object of agreement among such individuals is thus a publicly justified morality. Morality, then, is a common framework that advances the self-interest of each. The claim of Hobbesian contractualism to be a distinctly liberal conception of morality stems from the importance of individual freedom and property in such a common framework: only systems of norms that allow each person great freedom to pursue her interests as she sees fit could, it is argued, be the object of consensus among self-interested agents Courtland, ; Gaus a: chap.
The continuing problem for Hobbesian contractualism is the apparent rationality of free-riding: if everyone or enough complies with the terms of the contract, and so social order is achieved, it would seem rational to defect, and act immorally when one can gain by doing so. Turning from rightness to goodness, we can identify three main candidates for a liberal theory of value.
We have already encountered the first: perfectionism. Insofar as perfectionism is a theory of right action, it can be understood as an account of morality. Obviously, however, it is an account of rightness that presupposes a theory of value or the good: the ultimate human value is developed personality or an autonomous life. Competing with this objectivist theory of value are two other liberal accounts: pluralism and subjectivism. In his famous defence of negative liberty, Berlin insisted that values or ends are plural, and no interpersonally justifiable ranking among these many ends is to be had.
More than that, Berlin maintained that the pursuit of one end necessarily implies that other ends will not be achieved.
In this sense ends collide. In economic terms, the pursuit of one end entails opportunity costs: foregone pursuits which cannot be impersonally shown to be less worthy. There is no interpersonally justifiable way to rank the ends, and no way to achieve them all. Each person must devote herself to some ends at the cost of ignoring others. For the pluralist, then, autonomy, perfection or development are not necessarily ranked higher than hedonistic pleasures, environmental preservation or economic equality.
All compete for our allegiance, but because they are incommensurable, no choice can be interpersonally justified. The pluralist is not a subjectivist: that values are many, competing and incommensurable does not imply that they are somehow dependent on subjective experiences. But the claim that what a person values rests on experiences that vary from person to person has long been a part of the liberal tradition.
To Hobbes, what one values depends on what one desires : The perfectionist, the pluralist and the subjectivist concur on the crucial point: the nature of value is such that reasonable people pursue different ways of living. To the perfectionist, this is because each person has unique capacities, the development of which confers value on her life; to the pluralist, it is because values are many and conflicting, and no one life can include them all, or make the interpersonally correct choice among them; and to the subjectivist, it is because our ideas about what is valuable stem from our desires or tastes, and these differ from one individual to another.
All three views, then, defend the basic liberal idea that people rationally follow different ways of living. But in themselves, such notions of the good are not full-fledged liberal ethics, for an additional argument is required linking liberal value with norms of equal liberty, and to the idea that other people command a certain respect and a certain deference simply by virtue of having values of their own. To be sure, Berlin seems to believe this is a very quick argument: the inherent plurality of ends points to the political preeminence of liberty see, for example, Gray: It is here that subjectivists and pluralists alike sometimes rely on versions of moral contractualism.
Those who insist that liberalism is ultimately nihilistic can be interpreted as arguing that this transition cannot be made successfully: liberals, on their view, are stuck with a subjectivistic or pluralistic theory of value, and no account of the right emerges from it. These vague and sweeping designations have been applied to a wide array of disputes; we focus here on controversies concerning i the nature of society; ii the nature of the self.
Liberalism is, of course, usually associated with individualist analyses of society. I, sec. In the last years of the nineteenth century this individualist view was increasingly subject to attack, especially by those who were influenced by idealist philosophy. Liberals such as L. Hobhouse and Dewey refused to adopt radically collectivist views such as those advocated by Bernard Bosanquet , but they too rejected the radical individualism of Bentham, Mill and Spencer.
F Mummery and J. Hobson, ; J.
Keynes, During and after the Second World War the idea that liberalism was based on inherently individualist analysis of humans-in-society arose again. The reemergence of economic analysis in liberal theory brought to the fore a thoroughgoing methodological individualism. Human beings, insisted Buchanan and Tullock, are the only real choosers and decision-makers, and their preferences determine both public and private actions. The renascent individualism of late-twentieth century liberalism was closely bound up with the induction of Hobbes as a member of the liberal pantheon.
Rawls, he charges, ultimately assumes that it makes sense to identify us with a pure capacity for choice, and that such pure choosers might reject any or all of their attachments and values and yet retain their identity. From the mids onwards various liberals sought to show how liberalism may consistently advocate a theory of the self which finds room for cultural membership and other non-chosen attachments and commitments which at least partially constitute the self Kymlicka, Much of liberal theory has became focused on the issue as to how we can be social creatures, members of cultures and raised in various traditions, while also being autonomous choosers who employ our liberty to construct lives of our own.
This passage — infused with the spirit of nineteenth century imperialism and perhaps, as some maintain, latent racism — is often ignored by defenders of Mill as an embarrassment Parekh, ; Parekh, ; Mehta, ; Pitts, This is not to say that such Millian passages are without thoughtful defenders.
See, for example, Inder Marawah Nevertheless, it raises a question that still divides liberals: are liberal political principles justified for all political communities? In The Law of Peoples Rawls argues that they are not. David Miller develops a different defense of this anti-universalistic position, while those such as Thomas Pogge ch.
The debate about whether liberal principles apply to all political communities should not be confused with the debate as to whether liberalism is a state-centered theory, or whether, at least ideally, it is a cosmopolitan political theory for the community of all humankind. Immanuel Kant — a moral universalist if ever there was one — argued that all states should respect the dignity of their citizens as free and equal persons, yet denied that humanity forms one political community.
Thus he rejected the ideal of a universal cosmopolitan liberal political community in favor of a world of states, all with internally just constitutions, and united in a confederation to assure peace . On a classical liberal theory, the difference between a world of liberal communities and a world liberal community is not of fundamental importance. Since the aim of government in a community is to assure the basic liberty and property rights of its citizens, borders are not of great moral significance in classical liberalism Lomasky, If liberal principles require significant redistribution, then it is crucially important whether these principles apply only within particular communities, or whether their reach is global.
forneperrapo.tk Thus a fundamental debate between Rawls and many of his followers is whether the difference principle should only be applied within a liberal state such as the United States where the least well off are the least well off Americans , or whether it should be applied globally where the least well off are the least well off in the world Rawls, a: ff; Beitz, ff; Pogge, Part Three.
Liberal political theory also fractures concerning the appropriate response to groups cultural, religious, etc.
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These groups may deny education to some of their members, advocate female genital mutilation, restrict religious freedom, maintain an inequitable caste system, and so on. When, if ever, should a liberal group interfere with the internal governance of an illiberal group?
Suppose first that the illiberal group is another political community or state. Can liberals intervene in the affairs of non-liberal states?
Here Mill is generally against intervention. In addition to questions of efficacy, to the extent that peoples or groups have rights to collective self-determination, intervention by a liberal group to induce a non-liberal community to adopt liberal principles will be morally objectionable. As with individuals, liberals may think that peoples or groups have freedom to make mistakes in managing their collective affairs.
Thus rather than proposing a doctrine of intervention many liberals propose various principles of toleration which specify to what extent liberals must tolerate non-liberal peoples and cultures. Chandran Kukathas — whose liberalism derives from the classical tradition — is inclined to almost complete toleration of non-liberal peoples, with the non-trivial proviso that there must be exit rights. The status of non-liberal groups within liberal societies has increasingly become a subject of debate, especially with respect to some citizens of faith. We should distinguish two questions: i to what extent should non-liberal cultural and religious communities be exempt from the requirements of the liberal state?
Turning to i , liberalism has a long history of seeking to accommodate religious groups that have deep objections to certain public policies, such as the Quakers, Mennonites or Sikhs. The most difficult issues in this regard arise in relation to children and education see Galston, ; Fowler, ; Andersson, Mill, for example, writes:.
Over the last thirty years, there has been a particular case that is at the core of this debate — Wisconsin vs. Yoder : [ U. In this case, the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of Amish parents to avoid compulsory schooling laws and remove their children from school at the age of 14 — thus, according to the Amish, avoiding secular influences that might undermine the traditional Amish way of life. Because cultural and religious communities raise and educate children, they cannot be seen as purely voluntary opt-outs from the liberal state: they exercise coercive power over children, and so basic liberal principles about protecting the innocent from unjustified coercion come into play.
Other liberal theorists, on the other hand, have argued that the state should not intervene because it might undermine the inculcation of certain values that are necessary for the continued existence of certain comprehensive doctrines Galston, p. Moreover, some such as Harry Brighouse have argued that the inculcation of liberal values through compulsory education might undermine the legitimacy of liberal states because children would not due to possible indoctrination be free to consent to such institutions.
But many friends of religion e.
Again liberals diverge in their responses. Thus Rawls allows the legitimacy of religious-based arguments against slavery and in favor of the United States civil rights movement, because ultimately such arguments were supported by public reasons. Others e. Thus, citizens of faith would be able to preserve their religious integrity, all the while remaining unable to coerce others via unshared religious reasons. It is not, though, an unimportant or trivial thing that all these theories take liberty to be the grounding political value.
Radical democrats assert the overriding value of equality, communitarians maintain that the demands of belongingness trump freedom, and conservatives complain that the liberal devotion to freedom undermines traditional values and virtues and so social order itself. Intramural disputes aside, liberals join in rejecting these conceptions of political right. Berlin, Isaiah Bosanquet, Bernard communitarianism conservatism contractarianism contractualism cosmopolitanism Enlightenment Green, Thomas Hill Hobbes, Thomas: moral and political philosophy justice: distributive justice: international distributive justification, political: public Kant, Immanuel: social and political philosophy legitimacy, political libertarianism liberty: positive and negative Locke, John: political philosophy markets Mill, John Stuart: moral and political philosophy multiculturalism perfectionism, in moral and political philosophy property and ownership public reason Rawls, John religion and political theory republicanism Rousseau, Jean Jacques toleration.
The Debate About Liberty 1.
Jonathan Simons. Results from one approach can fill gaps in the other approach. Like the physical sciences i. In modern, complex societies members perform very different tasks, resulting in a strong interdependence between individuals. Neil Gascoigne. Merton proposed a distinction between manifest and latent functions. Ritenour, Shawn R.