Social Philosophy and Policy 21 (2):1-22 (2004)
The modern liberal state arose as part of a rebellion against the entrenched hierarchies of rank, power, and privilege that had characterized the feudal order of European society. Under that order, a person's prospects in life were determined almost entirely by his status at birth. The individual lacked the liberty to change his social and economic ranking and was rendered dependent on the will of those in higher-ranking positions. It was against this inclusive, closed, and ascriptive system of inequality and dependence that the proponents of the liberal state fought
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