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Liberalism And Its Critics Essay

2042 words - 8 pages

Throughout our lives the limits to our freedom of thought and action are being defined by a variety of forces and pressures, many, if not most, of which we are completely unaware of. In society, there is a tremendously high degree of conformity of thoughts and ideas, values and attitudes between the members of the same society. We are free, free to do whatever we want with our lives, and no one can change that. When we talk about freedom of thought, we tend initially to think of legal and physical freedom and restrictions, what we are allowed to do and not allowed to do. It has been implicit in much that has been said that the person as he is, is a product of what he has been imposed upon him from without (from the home, from the church, from school, from the radio, from the press, T.V., and films) with the aim of restricting and challenging his freedom of thought and freedom of action. According to McAdam (1963), this kind of individual has been faced with a constant bombardment of propaganda of one sort and another to help him build nice healthy attitudes and to follow acceptable modes of behaviour.Liberals believe that human beings are, first and foremost, individuals, endowed with reason. In other words each individual should enjoy the maximum possible freedom consistent with a like freedom for all (Heywood, 2007:23). He goes on by saying "liberalism is characterized by a belief in a 'minimal' state, whose function is limited to the maintenance of domestic order and personal security" (Heywood, 2007:23). The ability to think or act as one wishes a capacity that can be associated with the individual, a social group or nation is what most of us understand by the single word: Freedom (Heywood, 2007:29). It is a natural right and essential for a truly human existence. A study in the freedom of the individual would be worth it because it varies from one person to another, according to their social or economic conditions. It is ultimately the end for human beings and no one should be deprived of it by others."Philosophers with an optimistic view of human nature and a belief in the possibility of harmonizing human interests, such as Locke or Adam Smith and in some moods Mill believed that social harmony and progress were compatible with reserving a large area for private life over which neither the state nor any other authority must be allowed to trespass" (Berlin 1984:19).This essay will be discussing to what extent the state can interfere with the freedom of the individual. As Berlin (1984), argues that liberty is endangered by the mere existence of absolute authority as such. This essay will be looking at some arguments of liberalism and will discuss whether their argument is convincing or not; from the argument of freedom to the role of the stateHeywood (2007) argues that individuals should be entitled to equal legal and political rights too. The liberal understands quite clearly that without rules, the existence of society would be endangered....

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