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date: 15 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter explores the many varieties of liberal thinking that have developed over time, often in parallel. Those include theories of liberty, individualism, and autonomy alongside notions of community, progress, and welfare, some of which intersect, and all involving different degrees of state intervention or restraint. Constitutionalism, entrepreneurship, individual development as epitomized by Mill, and cultural pluralism are identified as four separate tendencies that both co-exist and clash within the liberal tradition. Their institutional manifestations oscillate between a welfare state and a market society, and between universalistic and particularistic practices. American liberalism in particular emerged as rights-based, but was also prone to criticism that policies undertaken in its name fell short of its own principles, deviating from the ethical and utopian desiderata of Rawls’ philosophical liberalism. Importantly, liberalism has also been surrounded by pretenders eager to exploit its mantle rather than commit to its substance.

Keywords: liberalism, constitutionalism, markets, individualism, welfare state, universalism, pluralism, Mill, Rawls

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