Legal Studies : A Liberal Critique (Studies in Moral, Political,
and Legal Philosophy) by Andrew
Scholars in the
"Critical Legal Studies" movement have generated an
important body of literature that challenges some of the most
cherished ideals of modern Western legal and political thought.
Taking as their main target liberalism and its commitment to the
rule of law, CLS thinkers claim that the rule of law is a myth
and that its defense by liberal thinkers is riddled with
inconsistencies. In this first book-length liberal reply to CLS,
Andrew Altman systematically examines the philosophical
underpinnings of the CLS movement and exposes the deficiencies
in the major lines of the CLS argument against liberalism.
here to learn more about this book
here for more Liberalism Books
here for 20th Century Philosophy Books
Essay by Stacy Smith Cornell.
Raging debate over multiculturalism has permeated virtually every facet
of academic endeavor. Appropriately, political philosophers and philosophers
of education are as embroiled in these discussions as any other
academicians. Theoretical traditions are being reexamined in light of
demands for group representation in political participation and resource
distribution. Scholarly attention to the "recognition" and
of cultural groups suggests that a multicultural agenda must address
histories of exclusion and domination. Multiculturalism aspires to replace
discriminatory practices with equal status relationships in an inclusionary
public realm. For political philosophers this agenda raises the question:
What theoretical orientation is most hospitable to the ideals of
multiculturalism? For philosophers of education the question becomes: What
educational practices are consistent with a multicultural public ethos? ...
Essay by J Malcolm Fraser.
... Liberals have always had a set of beliefs providing the underlying
rationale of their policies and giving them coherence. But we have not
always spelled out those beliefs, those assumptions which inform and give
direction to our policy decisions.
We need now to remedy that defect, to articulate our often unspoken major
premises - unspoken simply because Liberals have taken the truth and
importance of those premises to be self-evident. To us, they remain
self-evident; but to others they remain largely un- known. And because they
are largely unknown, the policies that flow from them are not fully
understood. And because of that, we Liberals have made harder -
unnecessarily harder - the task of winning and keeping not just the votes of
the people but, even more important because it is more enduring, their
under- standing support...
Essay by Steele Hall.
This extract is part of Australian
Liberalism: The Continuing Vision
...A Government and therefore a Party, such as ours, which looks to be in
Government, cannot be entirely representational of what the public wants. We
have the duty to lead and at times to do things which are not popular for
the longer term management of this community. On the other hand, we cannot
fail to represent and to acknowledge that our first duty is to the voters of
this country. If we think in Government that we have so much expertise and
knowledge that we can forget our role of representation, we of course would
get too far out in front and we would suffer one of the oldest problems of
politics - we would not have anyone behind...
Essay by James D. Marshall.
The notions of busno-power and busnocratic rationality developed
elsewhere1 will be more
fully developed in this paper. Busno-power is developed but distinguished
from Foucault's notion of bio-power,2
and busnocratic rationality from the well known notion of technocratic or
instrumental rationality. These notions are important for understanding
recent international "reforms" in education, particularly as they
impinge upon notions of the subject.
The notion of the free autonomous chooser underlies reform literature.
But just as the Enlightenment notion of personal autonomy did not provide
freedom, according to Foucault, nor also will neo-liberal autonomous
choosers be free either: busnocratic rationality and busno-power will shape
them as particular kinds of subjects so that they will choose in certain
A free way of thinking and acting in private and public life.
The word liberal is derived from the Latin liber, free, and
up to the end of the eighteenth century signified only "worthy of a
free man", so that people spoke of "liberal arts",
"liberal occupations". Later the term was applied also to those
qualities of intellect and of character, which were considered an ornament
becoming those who occupied a higher social position on account of their
wealth and education. Thus liberal got the meaning of intellectually
independent, broad-minded, magnanimous, frank, open, and genial. Again
Liberalism may also mean a political system or tendency opposed to
centralization and absolutism. In this sense Liberalism is not at variance
with the spirit and teaching of the Catholic Church. Since the end of the
eighteenth century, however, the word has been applied more and more to
certain tendencies in the intellectual, religious, political, and economical
life, which implied a partial or total emancipation of man from the
supernatural, moral, and Divine order. Usually, the principles of 1789, that
is of the French Revolution, are considered as the Magna Charta of this new
form of Liberalism. The most fundamental principle asserts an absolute and
unrestrained freedom of thought, religion, conscience, creed, speech, press,
and politics. The necessary consequences of this are, on the one hand, the
abolition of the Divine right and of every kind of authority derived from
God; the relegation of religion from the public life into the private domain
of one's individual conscience; the absolute ignoring of Christianity and
the Church as public, legal, and social institutions; on the other hand, the
putting into practice of the absolute autonomy of every man and citizen,
along all lines of human activity, and the concentration of all public
authority in one "sovereignty of the people". This sovereignty of
the people in all branches of public life as legislation, administration,
and jurisdiction, is to be exercised in the name and by order of all the
citizens, in such a way, that all should have share in and a control over
it. A fundamental principle of Liberalism is the proposition: "It is
contrary to the natural, innate, and inalienable right and liberty and
dignity of man, to subject himself to an authority, the root, rule, measure,
and sanction of which is not in himself". This principle implies the
denial of all true authority; for authority necessarily presupposes a power
outside and above man to bind him morally.
Essay by Richard Brosio, Ball
The kind of liberal discourse Smith articulates is attractive to me,
especially because it helps shed light on complex, nuanced problems that
radicals and/or democratic Marxists have not addressed often enough.
Furthermore, because I see liberalism’s historical attempt to come to
terms with the Frankensteinian power of capitalism as at least related to
the Marxist project, it is possible to view Smith as family -- albeit not
necessarily a close relative. Bowles and Gintis have written,
progressive social change in the liberal democratic
capitalist societies has followed the logic of collective opposition to
oppression suggested by Marxian theory, while adopting the liberal
language of rights and the goal of democratic empowerment….Though
often turned effectively against popular movements, the discourse of
rights has framed the hopes…of ordinary people for three centuries.1
Bowles and Gintis continue by asserting that political history in
advanced capitalist societies can be characterized as a collision between
property and personal rights. Relatedly,
one may bemoan the…hegemony of liberal discourse or one
may celebrate it….[However,] it has…been part of the discursive
landscape that political actors inhabit. We use it as we will and
fashion it to our own ends if we can, but we seek to escape it only at
the cost of becoming historically irrelevant.
So let us enter into relevant conversation with Smith...
©National Humanities Center. Grant Wacker, Ph.D. Duke University Divinity School.
This page has been set up by Victor Perton MP to provide reasonable access to papers and hotlinks relating to Australian...
Liberalism: The Continuing Vision, (ed Thompson, Brandis & Harley),
A Liberal Forum Publication, 1986. This is being updated with additional
material and we would be grateful for significant contributions to
Australian liberalism from 1901 to 1990.
in the 90s This is a collection of speeches and essays. Again, we would
appreciate any additional material.
Looking to the 21st Century - have a look at what current Liberals think
on our new page.