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Cover Political Ideologies

2. Liberalism  

Robin Redhead and Stephen Hood

This chapter explores the basic assumptions of liberal ideology. It first traces the origins of liberalism before discussing some key concepts and values of a liberal ideology such as liberty, democracy, rights, and tolerance. It then considers two of the most important, yet contrasting, strands within liberalism: economic liberalism, which supports policies of privatization and laissez-faire economics, and social liberalism, whose concern for individual freedom is coupled with a commitment to social equality. The chapter also looks at some key criticisms of liberal ideas, focusing on the liberal vision of a just society, as well as the influence of liberalism on social movements and political parties in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. Finally, it illustrates the pervasiveness of liberalism and how it is related to other ideologies.

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Cover Political Ideologies

10. Environmentalism  

Dorron Otter

This chapter examines the extent to which environmentalism has emerged as a viable ideology in its own right. It begins by charting the origins of the rise of the environment as an issue in relation to global and national political systems as well as the point at which it might be possible to identify the emergence of a distinct Green agenda. It then analyses the range of environmental thinking and the embedded critique, ideal, and programme that defines Green ideology, with particular emphasis on classical liberalism and neo-liberalism, Green conservatism, eco-socialism, social ecology, and eco-feminism. It also explores the impact that Green policies have had in shaping the policy agenda and concludes by looking at the main challenges that face the consolidation of Green thinking and action. To illustrate these various issues, the chapter presents case studies, one of which relates to global climate change.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

5. Marxism  

This chapter examines Marxism as a normative political theory. It begins with a discussion of two strands of contemporary analytic Marxism’s critique of, and alternative to, liberal theories of justice. One strand rejects the very idea of justice. According to Marxists, justice seeks to mediate conflicts between individuals, whereas communism overcomes those conflicts, and hence overcomes the need for justice. The second strand shares liberalism’s emphasis on justice, but rejects the liberal belief that justice is compatible with private ownership of the means of production. Within this second strand, there is a division between those who criticize private property on the grounds of exploitation, and those who criticize it on the grounds of alienation. The chapter also explores non-Marxist conceptions of social democracy and social justice before concluding with an overview of the politics of Marxism.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

6. Communitarianism  

This chapter examines communitarianism and its central assumptions. It first considers two strands of communitarian thought: one camp argues that community should be seen as the source of principles of justice, whereas the other camp insists that community should play a greater role in the content of principles of justice. The chapter then explores the communitarian claim that the liberal ‘politics of rights’ should be abandoned for, or at least supplemented by, a ‘politics of the common good’. It also analyses the communitarian conception of the embedded self; two liberal accommodations of communitarianism, the so-called political liberalism and liberal nationalism; the communitarians’ ‘social thesis’, focusing on Charles Taylor’s belief that liberal neutrality cannot sustain the social conditions for the exercise of autonomy; and the connection between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. The chapter concludes with an overview of the politics of communitarianism.

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Cover Issues in Political Theory

9. Gender  

Clare Chambers

This chapter discusses gender. Mainstream political theorists have often ignored the issue of gender difference, and so feminists have had to argue for its significance and importance. There are many varieties of feminism, just as there are many varieties of liberalism or egalitarianism. However, it is possible to identify three theses that all feminists support, in one form or another. These theses are the entrenchment of gender; the existence of patriarchy; and the need for change. A key theme of feminist theory has been the idea that it is vital to distinguish the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. According to the distinction, ‘sex’ refers to biological differences and ‘gender’ refers to social differences. Feminists use philosophical and political methods that are common to other theories or campaigns, but there are some distinctively feminist methods, such as the Woman Question and consciousness raising.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

20. Bentham  

Paul Kelly

This chapter examines Jeremy Bentham's political thought. Bentham is both an advocate of laissez-faire and an interventionist, a liberal rationalist and an equivocally liberal thinker prepared to sacrifice the rights of individuals to the well-being of the multitude. His ideas remain contested from all quarters, yet the outline of his actual political thought remains obscure. This chapter defends an interpretation of Bentham as an important liberal thinker with a commitment to the role of government in defending personal security and well-being, but also with a strong scepticism about government as a vehicle for harm as well as good. It first provides a short biography of Bentham before discussing his psychological theory as well as his account of value and duty. It also explores Bentham's views on psychological hedonism, obligations and rules, sovereignty and law, and representative democracy. It concludes with an assessment of Bentham's complex relationship with liberalism.

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22. J. S. Mill on Liberty  

Paul Kelly

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's views on liberty. It first provides a short biography of Mill before discussing his revision of psychological hedonism in light of accusations by Thomas Carlyle, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his followers, that Mill's hedonistic naturalism is no better than a philosophy for ‘swine’. Mill addressed this charge by drawing a categorical distinction between higher and lower pleasures. The chapter also considers the equally problematic attempt to derive Mill's liberty principle from an act-utilitarian moral philosophy as well as the claim that Mill's religion of humanity involves a form of moral and philosophical coercion as great as anything he challenges. It concludes with an analysis of Mill's Considerations on Representative Government and shows that its defence of constitutional democracy reflects his philosophical liberalism.

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11. Multiculturalism  

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the evolution of cultural diversity, a concept of multiculturalism, as an ideology. Aside from cultural diversity, multiculturalism has three other inter-related concepts or values: identity, community, and citizenship and equality. The chapter first considers the link between migration and cultural diversity before discussing the routes to cultural diversity within modern states, especially immigration into European societies in the period since the Second World War. It then explores the relationship between the national and global dimensions of cultural diversity as well as the attitudes of other ideological perspectives, such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism, nationalism, and feminism, to cultural diversity. It also asks whether multiculturalism is an ideology in its own right and how multiculturalist ideology has been expressed in political movements and shaped government policies. Finally, it assesses the nature of, and reasons for, the recent backlash against multiculturalism in European societies.

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13. Beyond ideology?  

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines conceptions of human nature and ideological responses to globalization. It begins with a discussion of the two reasons for the persistence of ideological dispute regarding human nature. First, ideologies differ in their views of human nature, and these differences continue to generate competing visions of the good society consistent with this nature. Second, disagreement about the good society might be built into human nature. The chapter considers the different ideological conceptions of human nature and the implications of globalization for existing political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism. It also explores a range of arguments that suggest the possibility of resolving or ending ideological debate, asking whether it is possible to show the failure of a particular ideology, whether there can be a non-ideological way of doing politics, or whether there could there be an end of ideology.

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4. Socialism and communism  

John Gregson

This chapter examines the basic features of socialism and communism. Socialism is a complex ideology with numerous variants that are often strongly opposed to each other on one or more central questions or issues. Variants of socialism have converged with other classical ideologies (such as liberalism) in their beliefs and values, yet other variants have remained vehemently opposed to much within liberalism. The chapter first provides a brief historical background on socialism before discussing the key beliefs, values, and assumptions of socialism. In particular, it looks at socialism's critique of industrial capitalism and its vision of the good society, along with its its conception of human nature, community, and freedom. The chapter proceeds by considering some variants of socialism, especially communism and social democracy, as well as the overlap between socialism and other ideologies like liberalism. Finally, it assesses the historical, contemporary, and future impact of socialism.

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6. Nationalism  

Mark Langan

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of nationalism as ideology. It first defines nationalism and considers how the nation is socially constructed as an imagined community. It then analyses the practical implications of nationalist ideology in terms of the functioning of the nation-state (and of nationalist political parties). It also looks at the ‘rational’ form of nationalism (that is, the civic variety) and its ‘sticky’ connections to liberalism and socialism; the link between nationalism and politics; and the relationship between nationalism and globalization. The rational and somewhat pragmatic nationalism is compared with the ‘irrational’ and emotional variant found within both conservatism and fascism. The chapter concludes by highlighting key lessons regarding nationalism as ideology. Case studies relating to Scottish national identity, Brexit, Chinese nationalism, and ethnic nationalism in Russia are presented.

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7. Fascism and the radical right  

Aristotle Kallis

This chapter examines fascism as a distinct form of ultra-nationalism, combining glorification of the nation with aggressive exclusion of those perceived as outsiders and even more enemies. It first considers the ‘era of fascism’ and the basic tenets of fascist ideology before discussing the various terminologies and classifications that have been used in order to analyse fascism and the radical right. It then explores the historical context in which fascism emerged as a radical ideology in twentieth-century Europe, seeking a ‘third way’ beyond liberalism and socialism. It also assesses fascism's overlaps with other established ideologies such as conservatism, authoritarianism, liberalism, and revolutionary socialism, along with the ensuing hybrids that it has spawned.

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8. Reviewing the ‘classical’ legacy  

Left–right politics in the age of ideology

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the legacy of the ‘classical’ ideologies in terms of their European origins, expansion, and dominance. Classical ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism can be understood as contrasting responses to the intellectual, social, and economic transformations known as the Enlightenment and modernization, especially industrialization and the rise of capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first considers the idea that liberalism constitutes a dominant ideology before discussing the relationship between ideological principles, party politics, and statecraft. It then analyses the relationship between the classical ideologies in terms of the Enlightenment and the left–right conception of ideological debate. It also introduces the notion of ‘new’ ideologies and the extent to which the dominance of the classical ideologies can be seen in the character of the political parties that have dominated Western democracies.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

4. The Place of Liberty  

This chapter explores the theory that, to avoid the ‘tyranny of the majority’, we should be given the liberty to act just as we wish, provided that we do no harm to others. The focus is on John Stuart Mill's Liberty Principle (also known as the Harm Principle), according to which you may justifiably limit a person's freedom of action only if they threaten harm to another. The chapter considers Mill's arguments based on the Liberty Principle, including his claim there should be complete freedom of thought and discussion, and that harming another's interests is not a sufficient condition to justify constraint. It also discusses justifications for the Liberty Principle by focusing on issues of rights and utility, individuality and progress, and liberty as an intrinsic good. It concludes with an analysis of some of the problems of the kind of liberalism espoused by Mill's Liberty Principle.

Book

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy
Contemporary Political Philosophy has been revised to include many of the most significant developments in Anglo-American political philosophy in the last eleven years, particularly the new debates on political liberalism, deliberative democracy, civic republicanism, nationalism, and cultural pluralism. The text now includes two new chapters on citizenship theory and multiculturalism, in addition to updated chapters on utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism, and feminism. The many thinkers discussed include G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, William Galston, Carol Gilligan, R. M. Hare, Catherine Mackinnon, David Miller, Philippe Van Parijs, Susan Okin, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, John Roemer, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Iris Young.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

9. Feminism  

This chapter examines various strands of feminist theory, with particular emphasis on three feminist criticisms of the way mainstream political theories attend, or fail to attend, to the interests and concerns of women. The first argument focuses on the ‘gender-neutral’ account of sex discrimination, the second is concerned with the public–private distinction, and the third claims that the very emphasis on justice is itself reflective of a male bias. These arguments represent three of the most sustained points of contact between feminism and mainstream political philosophy. The chapter also considers two different conceptions of the public–private distinction in liberalism: the first deals with the relationship between civil society and the state, or between the social sphere and the political sphere; the second emphasizes the right to privacy. It concludes with an analysis of the ethic of care as opposed to the ‘ethic of justice’.

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3. Conservatism  

Mark Garnett

This chapter examines the basic features of conservative ideology, with particular emphasis on its strongly contested nature. It begins with a discussion of two major issues: whether conservatism is distinctive ideology and whether the core ideas of conservatism have changed over time. It then shows how conservatism differs from varieties of liberalism and goes on to explore ‘conservatism’ in the United States, along with some apparent manifestations of conservatism in political parties and movements outside the United Kingdom. Finally, it looks at the relationship between conservatism and religion. Case studies on the ideas of Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill, Barry Goldwater, and Friedrich von Hayek are presented.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

4. The Place of Liberty  

This chapter explores the theory that, to avoid the ‘tyranny of the majority’, we should be given the liberty to act just as we wish, provided that we do no harm to others. The focus is on John Stuart Mill’s Liberty Principle (also known as the Harm Principle), according to which you may justifiably limit a person’s freedom of action only if they threaten harm to another. The chapter considers Mill’s arguments based on the Liberty Principle, including his claim there should be complete freedom of thought and discussion, and that harming another’s interests is not a sufficient condition to justify constraint. It also discusses justifications for the Liberty Principle by focusing on issues of rights and utility, individuality and progress, and liberty as an intrinsic good. It concludes with an analysis of some of the problems of the kind of liberalism espoused by Mill’s Liberty Principle.

Book

Cover Political Ideologies

Edited by Paul Wetherly

Political Ideologies provides a broad-ranging introduction to both classical and contemporary political ideologies. Adopting a global outlook, it introduces readers to ideologies' increasingly global reach and the different national versions of these ideologies. Importantly, ideologies are presented as frameworks of interpretation and political commitment, encouraging readers to evaluate how ideologies work in practice, the problematic links between ideas and political action, and the impact of ideologies. Regular learning features encourage readers to think critically about ideologies, and view them as competing and contestable ways of interpreting the world. A unique ‘stop and think’ feature calls for readers to reflect on their own ideological beliefs. Topics include liberalism, conservatism, socialism and communism, anarchism, nationalism, fascism and the radical right, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, religion and fundamentalism.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

32. Rawls  

Rex Martin

This chapter examines the main arguments for John Rawls's ideas about justice. Rawls identified two principles as central to political liberalism: the principle of equal basic rights and liberties, and a principle of economic justice, which stresses equality of opportunity, mutual benefit, and egalitarianism. In Rawls's interpretation, these two principles take place ultimately in an ideal arena for decision-making, which he calls the ‘original position’. In time, Rawls became dissatisfied with this approach and began to reconfigure his theory, moving the focus towards a ‘family’ of liberal principles. The chapter begins by discussing Rawls's first and second principles before considering his concept of ‘original position’ as well as his views on overlapping consensus. It concludes with an analysis of the main ideas contained in Rawls's 1999 book, The Law of Peoples.