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Why Do Liberals Place Such Importance On The Concept Of Liberty?

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Introduction

Why Do Liberals Place Such Importance On The Concept Of Liberty? Liberalism is a political viewpoint of which the key concept is that of liberty, as indicted by its title. Liberty is the birthright of an individual to have freedom of choice without coercion from others. It gives individuals the entitlement to do as they wish which, in turn, has the implication of a plural society in which tolerance is a vital component in order for social harmony to remain. Within liberalism, however, there are two further perspectives, that which we call 'classical' and another called 'social' (Heywood, A. 1998. p.30). Classical liberalism advocates that people should be completely free from intervention, particularly from the state, so that everyone is treated equally. Social liberalists state that, although people should be free to dictate their own lives, some state intervention is required in order to maintain that everyone is given an equal chance to succeed. They support initiatives such as free healthcare and education for all as well as welfare for the underprivileged. The ideas of liberty promoted by classical liberalists and social liberalists are therefore somewhat different. ...read more.

Middle

1998. p.50). This was based on the idea that the utility value of an action was evaluated before it took place. They thought that before any person did anything, they weighed up whether it would it would give them pleasure or pain, implying all actions resulted in one of these, he termed this the 'felicific calculus', or the calculation of happiness (Adams, I. 2001. p.21). This idea could also be applied to larger businesses and organisations, rather than simply the individual, by doing what inspires happiness in 'the greatest number' (Heywood, A. 1998. p.51). However, many argue that this bases what is right and acceptable on the majority, whereas liberalists see the individuals view as just as important as the preponderance. Later, J.S. Mill, the son of James Mill, fused the ideas of his father, who said people only act when they will gain happiness out of it, with that of the romantic liberalists that had contradicted him, saying that each individual is both 'precious' and 'unique' (Adams, I. 2001. p.24). His work is often seen as the 'heart of liberalism', as it creates a 'bridge' between the two differing perspectives (Heywood, A. ...read more.

Conclusion

1998. p.27). It is perhaps due to this that it has come to be the 'most successful ideology of the modern world' (Adams, I. 2001. p.10). This does not, however, mean that liberalism will continue to grow and become the dominant ideology; it seems, in fact, that ideological pluralism is what we should expect. In evaluating, it becomes apparent that, in fact, there are two separate questions to consider. Firstly, 'why do classical liberalists place such importance on negative liberty?' This is due to the fact that they believe each individual is best in control of their own choices, although they may make bad ones, they will learn from these. All people are rational and therefore should be able to continue single-mindedly in the pursuit of self-gain. The other question is 'why do social liberalists place such importance on positive liberty?' Social liberalists believe that those who follow the classical perspective are highly elitist. In order to have equality, rules are required so that the basic needs of all are met and equality of opportunity is achieved. J.S. Mill's work is perhaps the most reliable of all as it is a combination of the two. ...read more.

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