Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Liberalism

David Weinstein

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728365 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Liberalism

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  • History of Western Philosophy
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Anglo-American political theory, especially contemporary analytical liberalism, has become too self-referential and consequently insufficiently attentive to its own variegated past. Some analytical liberals fret about whether the good or the right should have priority, while others agonize about whether liberalism is compatible with value pluralism and with multiculturalism. Too many contemporary analytical liberals see liberalism as beginning with Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, as next reformulated classically by John Stuart Mill, and then as receding into the wilderness of mere history of political thought thanks to the linguistic turn and the vogue of emotivism before being resurrected so magnificently by John Rawls. The Rawlsian liberal tradition severely marginalizes new liberals and idealists such as T. H. Green, Bernard Bosanquet, L. T. Hobhouse, D. G. Ritchie, and J. A. Hobson. New liberals and idealists alike wrote highly original political philosophy, parts of which contemporary liberals have repeated inadvertently with false novelty. In Rawls's view, classical utilitarianism improved intuitionism by systematizing it but by sacrificing its liberal credentials.

Keywords: John Rawls; liberalism; political theory; political philosophy; T. H. Green; classical utilitarianism; intuitionism; John Stuart Mill; value pluralism; multiculturalism

Article.  10048 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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