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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the history of environmental concern within the liberal tradition from the latter’s roots onwards, moving from the private property orientated “old liberalism” of John Locke into the self-development orientated “new liberalism” of John Stuart Mill, then onwards into American pragmatism and the neutralist liberalism of John Rawls and his contemporary followers. This leads into an overview of the current debate, which started in the 1990s, over the possibilities of synthesizing environmentalist goals of sustainability and nature protection with some variant of liberalism. The chapter concludes with an argument that yokes the new liberal concern with self-development to the environmentalist emphasis on nature protection, arguing that the continued existence of relatively untransformed nonhuman nature is a vital precondition and assistance to human imaginative development and thus freedom.

Keywords: old liberalism, new liberalism, neutralist liberalism, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, sustainability, self-development, nature, freedom

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