The Justification of Liberalism

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):199 - 217 (1972)
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There are a number of grounds for criticizing what the state requires of one, and for thinking that one no longer has an obligation to obey it. I will begin by attempting to locate liberalism amongst such grounds. It is useful for this purpose to contrast two headings under which these grounds may fall. Firstly, there are criticisms concerning the content of the requirements of the state. In this case exception is taken to what it is that the law requires quite apart from the process by which it was arrived at. If Jews are legally prevented from practising certain professions, and objection is taken because no state should make laws debarring persons from certain professions on religious grounds, the objection is one of content. Secondly, there are grounds concerning the procedure by which a decision was reached. If it is thought that the British Government ought not to have signed the Treaty of Rome because no referendum was taken on whether the electorate wanted Britain to join, exception is taken to the procedure by which this decision was made. The objection could be made by one who thought that British entry was the best policy. liberalism lays down principles concerning the permissible content of what is required by the state.



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Mill's liberalism.H. J. McCloskey - 1963 - Philosophical Quarterly 13 (51):143-156.

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