Classical Liberalism

Jason Brennan and John Tomasi

in The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195376692
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Classical Liberalism

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The central question animating liberal thought is: How can people live together as free and equal? This question is being reinvigorated by the emergence of what is called neoclassical liberalism. On the neoclassical liberal view, part of the justification for a society's basic structure is that it produces conditions whereby citizens have substantive liberty and can thus confront each other as free and equal. Neoclassical liberals combine a robust commitment to social justice with a commitment to a more extensive set of basic liberties than that advocated by high liberals. Neoclassical liberalism thus stakes out a claim to be the morally ambitious form of liberalism. This article attempts to locate the distinct conceptual space being carved out by neoclassical liberals. It first distinguishes classical liberalism (and libertarianism) from high liberalism, and then explains how neoclassical liberalism emerges in distinction from these other views.

Keywords: neoclassical liberalism; liberal thought; social justice; free and equal; high liberals

Article.  8207 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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