HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Political Liberalism, Economic Liberalism, Political Philosophy

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Published on 31 Jul 2011
School
UTSG
Department
History
Course
HIS109Y1
HIS109
Jan. 31, 2011
Liberalism
Liberal idea percolating everywhere, ideology part of the Enlightenment
tradition, also owed much to the American & French Revolutions
Idea of a liberal state, equality of citizens, fraternity
Became more significant as Industrial Revolution made rapid strides because the
developing middle class largely adopted the doctrine as its own
Divergences among people classified as Liberals, however all began with the
belief that people should be as free from restraint as possible
Economic Liberalism
Primary tenet was the concept of laissez-faire: the belief that the state should not
interrupt the free play of natural economic forces, especially supply & demand
Government should not restrain the economic liberty of the individual & should
restrict itself only to 3 primary functions: defense of the country, police protection of
individuals, & the construction & maintenance of public works too expensive for
individuals to undertake
Individuals economic liberty would bring about the maximum good for the
maximum number & benefit the general welfare of society
Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population:
Population increases at a geometric rate while the food supply increases at a
much slower arithmetic rate resulting in severe overpopulation & starvation for
human race if not unchecked
Misery & poverty inevitable - the result of the law of nature; no government or
individual should interfere with it
Ricardo, Principles of the Political Economy:
Increase in population means more workers which in turn cause wages to fall
below the subsistence level
Result is misery & starvation which then reduce the population
Number of workers decline wages rise above the subsistence level again 
encourages workers to have larger families, repeating the cycle
Raising wages arbitrarily would be pointless since it would accomplish little but
perpetuate this vicious cycle
Political Liberalism
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Protection of civil liberties or the basic rights of all people, including equality
before the law, freedom of assembly, speech, & press, freedom from arbitrary arrest
Freedoms should be guaranteed in a written document (e.g., American Bill of
Rights, French Declaration of the Rights of Man & Citizen)
Religious toleration for all, separation of church & state
Right of peaceful opposition to the government in & out of parliament, & the
making of laws by a representative assembly (legislature) elected by qualified voters
In a constitutional monarchy or state with limits on the powers of government to
prevent despotism & in written constitutions that would help guarantee these rights
Advocated ministerial responsibilities: system in which the kings ministers were
responsible to the legislature rather than the king, giving legislative branch a check on
the power of the executive
First half of 19th century Liberals believed in limited suffrage although all
entitled to equal civil rights; they should not have equal political rights
Right to vote & hold office would be only open to men who met certain property
qualifications
Liberalism as a political philosophy tied to middle-class men, especially
industrial middleclass men who favoured the extension of voting rights so that they
could share power with the landowning classes (little desire to let lower classes share
that power)
Liberals NOT democrats
Late 19 th
- early 20 th
century; L.T Hobhouse
To be free we have to be willing to except restraint
Taxation is necessary its the price we pay for civilization (Churchill)
Those who are taxed must agree to that alienation of property they must agree
to the level of taxation, & supervise the expenditure
Representatives of the community must ensure that the taxation is a legitimate
action taken by a legitimate government for legitimate purpose
Freedom of thought, freedom to hold opinions, to express them in speech, writing,
& political organization
Freedom of religion state had no right to interfere in personal beliefs, tell you
what is wrong
Should not be an established liberty
Personal liberties must be subject to restraint
Where do you draw the line on free speech? Ask the Liberals
Where do you draw the line on what is offensive or dangerous
Courts, law so you know where to draw the line
Freedom to trade, & associate basic economic freedom, free from unjust
restrictions (the freedom of the market place must be free to operate, as an unseen
hand according to Adam Smith, for example)
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Document Summary

Liberal idea percolating everywhere, ideology part of the enlightenment tradition, also owed much to the american & french revolutions. Idea of a liberal state, equality of citizens, fraternity. Became more significant as industrial revolution made rapid strides because the developing middle class largely adopted the doctrine as its own belief that people should be as free from restraint as possible. Divergences among people classified as liberals, however all began with the. Primary tenet was the concept of laissez-faire: the belief that the state should not. Government should not restrain the economic liberty of the individual & should. Individual"s economic liberty would bring about the maximum good for the. Population increases at a geometric rate while the food supply increases at a. Malthus, essay on the principle of population: much slower arithmetic rate resulting in severe overpopulation & starvation for human race if not unchecked individual should interfere with it.