Liberty is perhaps the most praised of all social ideals. Rare is the modern political movement which has not inscribed "liberty," "freedom," "liber ation," or "emancipation" prominently on its banners. Rarer still is the political leader who has spoken out against liberty, though, of course, some have condemned "license. " While there is overwhelming agreement on the value of liberty, however, there is a great deal of disagreement on what liberty is. It is this fact that explains how it is possible for the most violently opposed of political parties to pay homage to the "same" ideal. From among the many ways liberty is understood, this essay will be concerned with only two. The first takes liberty to be the absence of human interference with the individual's actions. This is the way liberty has been understood by the Anglo-American "liberal" tradition from Thomas Hobbes in the seventeenth century to l. S. Mill in the nineteenth to such contemporary, and very dissimilar, political philosophers as John Rawls and Robert Nozick. The "absence of interference" school is far from monolithic in its understanding of liberty, but it is united in its opposition to a rival account on which liberty is not taken to be the absence of human interference but rather the presence of diverse pos sibilities or opportunities.
This collection of nineteen of Kenneth Minogue's essays, written over a period of more than fifty years, celebrates the advent of modern liberty. They describe the conditions under which liberty and individuality can flourish and the threats to liberty's flourishing in our time. Minogue offers a powerful critique of political correctness, of ideological flights from reality, and of the deformities of study in the modern university.
This volume represents the first section of F. A. Hayek's comprehensive three-part study of the relations between law and liberty. Rules and Order constructs the framework necessary for a critical analysis of prevailing theories of justice and of the conditions which a constitution securing personal liberty would have to satisfy.
Victorian Britain is often considered as the high point of 'laissez-faire', the place and the time when people were most 'free' to make their own lives without the aid or interference of the State. This book explores the truth of that assumption and what it might mean. It considers what the Victorian State did or did not do, what were the prevailing definitions and practices of 'liberty', what other sources of discipline and authority existed beyond the State to structure people'slives - in sum, what were the broad conditions under which such a profound belief in 'liberty' could flourish, and a complex society be run on those principles. Contributors include leading scholars in British political, social and cultural history, so that 'liberty' is seen in the round, not justas a set of ideas or of political slogans, but also as a public and private philosophy that structured everyday life. Consideration is also given to the full range of British subjects in the nineteenth century - men, women, people of all classes, from all parts of the British Isles - and to placing the British experience in a global and comparative perspective.
Ralf Dahrendorf (1929 to 2009) has worked in sociology, political practice and political philosophy, and is associated with significant impulses in role theory and conflict theory. This book presents the first synthesis of his extensive oeuvre in English. Dahrendorf's political commitment was driven largely by his desire to maximize life chances, thus contributing to the further development of liberalism. In the tradition of Karl Popper, his work in all areas was aimed at defending the open society, and he saw conflicts, if they were settled, as being suitable in principle for contributing to social progress. This book provides insights into the various methodological and theoretical aspects and critiques of Ralf Dahrendorf's work, as well as his reflections on the position of sociology in the system of sciences and in relation to political practice. The current crisis of liberal politics has made Dahrendorf’s work more relevant than ever, and this overview will be of great interest to students and researchers across sociology, political science, political ideologies and European integration.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been cast as a champion of Enlightenment and a beacon of Romanticism, a father figure of radical revolutionaries and totalitarian dictators alike, an inventor of the modern notion of the self, and an advocate of stern ancient republicanism. Engaging with Rousseau treats his writings as an enduring topic of debate, examining the diverse responses they have attracted from the Enlightenment to the present. Such notions as the general will were, for example, refracted through very different prisms during the struggle for independence in Latin America and in social conflicts in Eastern Europe, or modified by thinkers from Kant to contemporary political theorists. Beyond Rousseau's ideas, his public image too travelled around the world. This book examines engagement with Rousseau's works as well as with his self-fashioning; especially in turbulent times, his defiant public identity and his call for regeneration were admired or despised by intellectuals and political agents.
John Gray has become one of our liveliest and most influential political philosophers. This current volume is a sequel to his Liberalisms: Essays in Political Philosophy. The earlier book ended on a sceptical note, both in respect of what a post-liberal political philosophy might look like, and with respect to the claims of political philosophy itself. John Gray's new book gives post-liberal theory a more definite content. It does so by considering particular thinkers in the history of political thought, by criticizing the conventional wisdom, liberal and socialist, of the Western academic class, and most directly by specifying what remains of value in liberalism. The upshot of this line of thought is that we need not regret the failure of foundationalist liberalism, since we have all we need in the historic inheritance of the institutions of civil society. It is to the practice of liberty that these institutions encompass, rather than to empty liberal theory, that we should repair.