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Classical Liberalism Summary Paper.docx

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University of Waterloo
Social Development Studies
SDS 131R
Theresa Romkey

Classical Liberalism To start, in order to understand classical liberalism, we must be aware of the three developments that transformed European society and lead to this political ideology. It first began with the Scientific Revolution in the 1600s, when Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton emerged with scientific discoveries that led to the professionalization of this field and led to a shift away from religion, as well as the decrease in power of the church. Following the Scientific Revolution is the Reformation (otherwise known as the Protestant Reformation), where Martin Luther challenged the power of the church, leading to their fragmentation and loss of power. The last development is the Rise of the Nation-State, which involved the Treaty of Westphalia allowing nation-states to have territoriality and sovereignty as well as allowing the nation (meaning a group of people who share common ground) to challenge the power and scope of the state (which are essentially the government). Classical liberalism is a response against the three developments mentioned above, and in turn, promotes democracy, human rights, and economic freedom. Classical liberalism’s core goal is freedom. There are three key people that represent classical liberalism. They are: John Locke John Locke believes that without common laws, people will still live harmoniously because of God (meaning that they do not harm one another). However, without common laws, it will be easy for the state of nature to slip into the state of war. Therefore the best way to live is to voluntarily enter the social contract in order to avoid the state of war. The Social Contract is when the nation gives up sovereignty to the state in order to receive or maintain social order. By entering the social contract, the people’s freedom will be limited but they will gain protection in return.According to Locke, when we enter the social contract, there should be minimal involvement of the state and night watchman in order for people to have more freedom. Locke strongly believed that everyone has the right to life, liberty and property. For him, the most important right a person can have is the right to property. What this mean is that property begins with the ownership of one’s own body and labor power.Anything that is attached to your body or was a produce of your labor will become of your property. However, there are limitations to these (but are also ways to get around them). The limitations to the
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