Liberal individualism, or 'classical liberalism' as it is often called, refers to a political philosophy in which liberty plays the central role. This book demonstrates a conceptual unity within the manifestations of classical liberalism by tracing the history of several interrelated and reinforcing themes. Concepts such as order, justice, rights and freedom have imparted unity to this diverse political ideology by integrating context and meaning. However, they have also sparked conflict, as classical liberals split on a number of issues, such as legitimate exceptions to the 'presumption of liberty', the meaning of 'the public good', natural rights versus utilitarianism, the role of the state in education, and the rights of resistance and revolution. This book explores these conflicts and their implications for contemporary liberal and libertarian thought.
George H. Smith is a freelance writer and writes a weekly article for the Cato Institute titled 'Excursions into the History of Libertarian Thought'. He is the author of Atheism: The Case against God (1974), Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies (1991) and Why Atheism? (2000). Since 1971, he has written more than one hundred articles and book reviews that have appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Arizona Daily Star, Newsday, Reason Magazine, Free Inquiry, The Humanist, and Inquiry Magazine, among many others.
1. Liberalism, old and new; 2. Liberalism and the public good; 3. Liberal ideology and political philosophy; 4. Sovereign state, sovereign self; 5. The anarchy game; 6. The radical edge of liberalism; 7. The idea of freedom; 8. Conflicts in classical liberalism; 9. Individualism; 10. Methodological individualism.