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The System of Liberty
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    The System of Liberty
    • Online ISBN: 9780511793325
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Book description

Liberal individualism, or 'classical liberalism' as it is often called, refers to a political philosophy in which liberty plays the central role. This book demonstrates a conceptual unity within the manifestations of classical liberalism by tracing the history of several interrelated and reinforcing themes. Concepts such as order, justice, rights and freedom have imparted unity to this diverse political ideology by integrating context and meaning. However, they have also sparked conflict, as classical liberals split on a number of issues, such as legitimate exceptions to the 'presumption of liberty', the meaning of 'the public good', natural rights versus utilitarianism, the role of the state in education, and the rights of resistance and revolution. This book explores these conflicts and their implications for contemporary liberal and libertarian thought.


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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Isaiah Berlin , “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 166–217.

Scott Gordon , The History and Philosophy of Social Science (London: Routledge, 1991), 223.

Thomas Aquinas , On the Government of Princes, in St. Thomas Aquinas, Political Writings, ed. and trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 12, 8.

David Hume , Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, 3rd ed., ed. P.H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 196

Hillel Steiner , “The Structure of a Theory of Compossible Rights,” Journal of Philosophy 74 (1977): 767–75

Ruth Grant , John Locke's Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 58ff

F.A. Hayek , “The Legal and Political Philosophy of David Hume,” in Hume: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. V.C. Chappell (New York: Anchor Books, 1966), 335–60.

Thomas Aquinas , On the Government of Princes, in St. Thomas Aquinas: Political Writings, ed. and trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 6

Richard Tuck , Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979). Among the many worthwhile treatments of this topic, my favorite overall is Brian Tierney , The Idea of Natural Rights.

Robert Filmer , Patriarcha, in Patriarcha and Other Writings, ed. Johann P. Sommerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 3.

Quentin Skinner , The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol. 2, The Age of Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 285


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