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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - John Stuart Mill, World View, Classical Liberalism

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

of 4
May 26, 2008
Value or belief system accepted as truth by a group or by an individual
Is a world view
oGerman; weltanschauung
o“Political Ideology”
Beliefs about governmental/political activity
Mostly normative in nature
Can be simple or complex
Can be founded on knowledge
oWhat can be proven to be true]
Can be founded on opinions
oWhat may be true but is not proven
Usually an organized and logical set of beliefs
Most people do not really have an ideology according to the above criteria
oTheir beliefs are too fragmental and are logically inconsistent and their
belief systems are easily destroyed when closely examined
oHowever, many people do not hold genuine ideologies
Ideologies: Liberalism
A majority of the Western world has adopted this ideology
Latin: liber = free, freedom, giving
First used in a political sense during the Napoleonic period
Philosophical background
John Locke (1637 – 1704)
Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)
American Founding Fathers
John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)
Main Ideas
Humans are responsible by nature
oBasically good
Personal freedom
oTo do anything so long as it does not directly hurt anyone else
Limited government
Equality of right
Consent of the governed
oPopular sovereignty
Before Liberalism (Europe: 500-1700s)
oStrong Order
Moral codes
oProtect honour
Classical Liberalism (Locke, Smith)
Freedom as the absence of coercion
oNegative liberty “freedom FROM”
Private property
oLaissez-faire economies
Minimal state
o“Night watchman state”
All are equal under the law
Popular sovereignty
oAlthough universal suffrage is not necessary
oA property-based franchise is enough
Historical reasons for classical liberalism
oOpposition to absolute monarchy
oThe need for religious tolerance
oDesire to won property and use it
Difficult in feudal Europe
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
oWish to eliminate elitist laws and medieval “caste” systems
oThe wish to live uncontrolled by outside influences
Ex: the Church
oThe belief that uncontrolled individuals know what is best for themselves
oThe desire to prevent the state from interfering with the market
Reform Liberalism
Began in the late 19th century
T.H. Green, J. Dewey, J.M. Keynes
J.S Mill on Liberty:
oSelf-regarding acts vs other-regarding acts
Government can intervene if the act regards others
Freedom as absence of coercion and the means to enjoy it
o“Positive liberty”: freedom TO
oPrivate property but market heavily regulated by the state
oLarge state (welfare state) which can create positive liberty
oEquality of opportunity as well as equality before the law
oPopular sovereignty
Historical Reasons:
oThe need for social justices as markets begin to produce vast extremes
between rich and poor
oThe need to soften “boom and bust” cycles of the market
oThe desire to eliminate property-based voting
Favoured the rich
oThe need to ward of radical socialism/communism
Thus keeping negative liberties intact
Liberal Party in Canada
Originally Classical Liberal
Mid-20th-century became Reform Liberal
Conservatives and U.S. Republicans
Mostly Classical Liberal
Today’s true “classical liberals” are “libertarians” like Milton Friedman (an economist)
and Robert Nozick (political philosopher)
In the U.S. “liberalism” = reform liberalism
Modern classical liberalism is often called neo-liberalism