A movement in the 17th & 18th centuries that advocated the use of reason in the reappraisal of accepted ideas and social institutions, challenging religious & political institutions, and the divine right of kings.
A new mode of thinking associated with the Enlightenment. It proposes that there are rational explanations for all phenomena, including the nature of man, of society and of history.
Asserts that all individuals are born with rights that are granted by God or nature. The main rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The theory implies that such rights may not be removed without the consent of the individual.
Associated with John Locke and Thomas Paine.
A term referring to a form of governing that interferes to a minimum extent in economic and social life.
Equality of Opportunity
Recognises that some people are born with disadvantages that cannot be overcome by their own efforts. Also suggests that al are entitled to equal life chances. Often promoted through universal education and welfare state.
Belief that all beliefs, values and viewpoints should be respected, even if they are not agreed with or the norm. Voltaire said 'I detest what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it'. Modern liberals sometimes place a limit on it.
Argue like Darwin's theory of evolution) thatthose who adapt best to their social environment will do best. Those who fail to adapt will suffer. Nobody should rely on others, charities or the state to support them, it creates an unhealthy dependency culture. Associated with Spencer, Smiles and Sumner.
Liberal inspired principle that asserts that:
a) modern states and governments should be controlled by a binding constitutuion that limits their powers
b) and protects the rights of individuals and groups
c) stops governements going beyond these principles for their own purposes
Weaker in the UK than the US as there is no codified constituton
Describes a society in which:
a) there is tolerance of many different beliefs
b) politcal parties and pressure groups are free to operate
c) power is dispersed
d) there are many access points
Classic Liberals believe that it should extend to equality before the law and political equality. Modern Liberals would also wish to see social justice - remove poverty and disease to give everyone an equal chance in life to succeed
The principle that human beings are of equal worth and are entitled to be treated in the same way.
Rule by merit; merit being intelligence plus effort; a society in which social position is determined by ability and hard work.
A (hypothetical) agreement amongst individuals through which they form a state in order to escape the disorder and chaos of the 'state of nature'. Associated with Hobbes and Locke
State Of Nature
A pre-political society characterised by unrestrained freedom and the absence of established authority. Used by John Rawls in his thought experiment.
The transfer of power from central government to subordinate regional bodies.
A moral and political philosophy that ultimately seeks to achieve 'the greatest happiness for the greatest number'.
Associated with Jeremy Bentham and James Mill.
The principle or policy of unfettered market competition, free from government interference. Asscoiated with Adam Smith.
An economic theory supporting state intervention and increased spending to achieve full employment and correct market crashes.
Takes primary responsibility for the social welfare of its citizens, discharges through a range of social security, health, education and other services.
An ideology that champions freedoms, civil liberites and laissez faire economics. Seeks to maximise the realm of unconstrained individual action and sees the role of the state as a nightwatchman only. Associated with John Locke and Thomas Jefferson
An ideology that supports civil liberties, but unlike classical liberalism believes that freedom can be enhanced by state intervention to remove poverty and disease. Associated with William Beveridge and John Rawls
English philosopher who advocated the idea of a "social contract" in which government powers are derived from the consent of the governed and in which the government serves the people; also said people have natural rights to life, liberty and property.
Scottish economist who advocated private enterprise and free trade.
A British economist and social reformer. He is perhaps best known for his 1942 report 'Social Insurance and Allied Services' (known by his surname) which served as the basis for the post-World War II Welfare State put in place by the Labour government.
Harvard philosopher. His theory of justice said that if forced to be faced with the uncertainty of poverty, people would accept an element of income equality.
Theory of John Rawls that said inequalities in society can only be justified if they work to the benefit of the least advantaged group in society
Veil Of Ignorance
Introduced by John Rawls in 'A Theory of Justice'. It is a method of determining the morality of a certain issue (e.g. slavery, income distribution) based upon the following principle: imagine that societal roles were completely re-fashioned and redistributed, and that from behind the veil, one does not know what role they will be reassigned. Only then can one truly consider the morality of an issue.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
French philosopher who believed people in their natural state were basically good but that they were corrupted by the evils of society, especially the uneven distribution of property.
Tyranny Of The Majority
The potential of a majority to monopolise power for its own gain to the detriment of minority rights and interests. Fear expressed by Plato and de Toqueville.
Separation Of Powers
Practice by which power is separated among three branches of government; each branch has its own powers and duties and is independent of and equal to the other branches. Advocated by Montesquieu.
A belief that society is made up of a collection of largely self-sufficient individuals, or atoms, rather than social groups.
A system of agrarian-based production that is characterised by fixed social hierarchies and a rigid pattern of obligations.
In contrast to positive freedom, the absence of restraint. You are free, in this view, if no one else is preventing you from doing what you want to do.
In contrast to negative freedom, the belief that freedom is not simply the absence of restraint but also the power or ability to act and to develop one's capacities.
Theory of J.S. Mill which said that governments should not regulate or interfere with the action of individuals so long as those individuals are not harming others.
The Orange Book
Published in 2004, it set out a liberal solutions to societal issues - often promoting choice and competition. Contributors include Cable, Clegg, Huhne, Laws and Oaten.
Both types of liberalism have an optimistic view of human nature. Liberal thinkers such as Locke and Bentham perceived humans as rational beings who act in their own self-interest by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Classical liberals would argue that if humans are inherently reasonable and self seeking, then a successful society can based on meritocracy without the need for an overbearing state to control us.
The modern liberal T.H Green suggested that people have a natural desire to enhance others' welfare as well as their own.
Extreme form of Classical Liberalism. Though ideological closer to liberals, many libertarians see themselves as conservatives. They see the state as an unwarranted restriction on freedom and its functions to a bare minimum, but unlike anarchists stop short of proposing a complete abolition. The state should not interfere with economic and social affairs - should do little more than defend the people.
All liberals now support democracy, but there were some in the past like Mill who supported keeping the right to vote for educted property owners who could take responsible decisions. And there are still issues for some liberals. The problems of the 'tyranny of the majority' discriminating against small groups: e.g. Catholics in N.Ireland.
An economic philosophy that emphasizes free markets (minimal regulation, low taxes, limited government intervention, free global trade, and other capitalist cornerstones) in the global political arena. It is essentially a reboot of classical theory that stresses economic strength and freedom as the driving forces in government and society. Strongly associated with UK and US 70s-90s and arguably beyond...