With some updating
There is a need, more than ever before, for a reiteration of the case for liberalism, now, in the aftermath of an anti-intellectual era, intrusion upon our constitutional protections, a resurgence of faith in the teachings of theistic authorities, with education floundering 1) for lack of real education in examining unfalsifiable and unverifiable language, and 2) the contortions of truth and knowledge that lie between the people and the world of politics.
The basic philosophy of the twentieth-century liberalism . . . differs from that of the liberalism of the past. It is pragmatic and secular placing its reliance on man and on his capacity to find through trial and error experimentation the means to solve his political, social, and economic problems. (1)
Volkomer then cites the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Truman as "strongly pragmatic and secular."
Secular? I wish I could agree entirely with him. Approximately 80% of the world's people still fall prey to the unfalsifiable language of theistic religion, and rituals; and in America particularly, the number of believers is still rising. Moreover, if our nation were truly liberal and secular, our citizens would allow openly admitted non-believers to be elected to high office in the government.
Nevertheless, I agree with Volkomer that liberalism is not a static concept. And, though I am not overly interested in chronological order, I do wish to relate some of the first stirrings and changes of liberalism.
However, it is important to understand that even under the administration of Plato's philosopher kings, the nature of liberalism would evolve because, as is the case that with every advance in knowledge new questions arise; so too, will liberalism change to meet new challenges.
My major concern is to show that whatever evolutionary changes are witnessed in its history, whether its beginnings can be found under the aegis of religion or outside of it, there are five fundamental requirements for it that must never be forsaken: reason, individuality, freedom (personal and political), and a news media free of politics and big business.
Unfortunately these requirements also give rein to a cacophony of opinions and acts vented with malice but also, if not with ill will, too often with little thought to their consequences. The problems of the world attest to that, but it is the price of freedom.
Moreover, the leaders of a nation shall 1) forever be held responsible by its citizens through the unrestricted right to vote, and 2) that all governmental affairs shall be decided upon, not through deep pockets, influence peddlers, business, and the military, with the consent and for the good of its people -- hopefully through reason.
This, in my view, is the ideal that our forefathers had in mind. However, over the years it has been seriously eroded. The fault lies with our citizens themselves and our schooling institutions. The latter are ridden by politics as much as are our leaders and are equally at fault despite the good they have accomplished, for their neglect in teaching our citizens the ability to distinguish the abuse of language from its proper use.
As George Orwell so aptly conveyed in his book 1984, those governments that control language control the minds, the will, and the actions of their citizens.
Moreover, the framers of our constitution would be turning over in their graves if they could know the extent to which the concept of a god and the influence of religious authorities has infiltrated our governmental politics and policies, our flag salute, our money, and public ceremonies.
This is an era in which the policies and the character of our government are influenced by manipulation of the media, lobbyists, big business and, now theistic religion with its resurgence in America. The installation of our leaders can be bought by those with the deepest pockets, while those, who are competent to lead, are deprived of that opportunity by money and character assassination. Many of our citizens see no point in voting and are asking whether this nation really is a democracy when citizens are deprived, by the Supreme Court (2001), of having their votes counted.
In the past decade of so, liberalism has long been the whipping boy in presidential elections. A deliberate campaign, to malign liberalism, has undermined its honorable history of value to our nation, even as those who have done so benefit, and have benefited, from its principles and the adherence to it by some of the most notable presidents of our two-hundred-and-a-quarter-year existence, since our forefathers included the concepts of liberalism, when they broke the yoke of the British Empire, and inscribed them in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Through artful machinations and use of linguistic cat-o'-nine-tails, anti-liberalists have cast grave doubt and suspicion upon liberalism in the minds of much of our citizenry.
By the former, the term is declared to apply to big-spending, wild-eyed, bleeding hearts, and big government advocates. And, the source of such negativity is the Republican right-wing fanatical conservatives who revert to the use of emotion instead of reason. Their grip on the party, controls its policies. For instance, despite the fact that the previous liberal administration had accumulated a huge surplus, the Republicans, who tend not to be liberals, in a short period of time, not only eliminated it but has raised our national debt to over seven trillion dollars -- and rising. But even more despicable is the anti-liberalist's habit of diminishing federal aid to the helpless and unfortunate:
Instead of blaming themselves, conservatives prefer to blame the victim: those who are poor must be insufficiently energetic, imbued with inadequate moral fiber, or just plain dumb. (2)
Just as there are many people, including politicians, who
are reluctant to admit their anti-theistic inclinations, so too, many or our
citizens, instead of being proud of their heritage, liberalism, and its
historically honorable designation, are intimidated into not admitting they are
liberals. This is the state of affairs today.
But the decline of respect for the principles of liberalism especially lies, also, at the doors of our class rooms. Despite enormous advances in our schooling institutions, we have been cheated by them and the powers that be, of the benefits of understanding the abuses of language foisted upon us.
A true education requires that we be educated in the distinction between falsifiable and unfalsifiable language.
Our "educational" institutions, which have done so well in schooling and so poorly in educating our citizenry, are largely guilty of neglecting to demand a more intense emphasis on the uses and abuses of language, particularly with unfalsifiable language and the use of such terms as 'truth' and 'knowledge.'
Such education would enable our citizens to see through the deliberate obfuscation exercised 1) in politics, 2) uninformatively in society at large, and 3) particularly by fanatics, not to mention the poor quality of thinking among much of the citizenry of our nation.
Unfortunately our citizenry does not demand courses in the schooling process that would develop critical and analytical thinking attitudes and techniques. Moreover, most of our teachers, themselves, not understanding the nuances of such thinking, not having been so educated, are unqualified to teach the subject.
Most liberals, naturally because of nurturing or osmosis, tend to exercise such principles and techniques without understanding them. Consequently they give little thought to the need for the schooling process to include them as class studies.
This said, it is my intent here, to review the historical background and the evolution of liberal principles thanks to renowned philosophers of the past who posited, and of the present who posit, the liberal concepts that the framers of our constitution had the wisdom to incorporate in founding our nation.
One of the most shameful acts of anti-liberalists is their deliberate negative use of the term 'liberal' in order to satisfy their insatiable hunger for votes of the uninformed.
Apparently a majority of our citizenry has long forgotten the heritage and history of our nation which was founded on liberal philosophy and principles. Is it any wonder, then, that so many of our citizens are unable to recognize the devastating damage and results to the basic principles of our nation caused by the anti-liberalists?
Consider for example:
1) our government's refusal to allow research on stem cells,
2) denying legal representation to prisoners (some, American citizens) under the guise of military prerogatives,
3) weakening the separation of church and state,
4) refusal to cooperate with the UN to protect the environment and before invading Iraq,
5) denying women control over their own bodies,
6) denying many of our citizens the right of legal commitment to whomever they love,
7) denying the right to sex between two consenting citizens behind the constitutional security of their homes,
8) instituting the most hegemonic and secretive administration in the history of our nation,
9) invading the privacy of our homes,
10) enlarging the powers of the central government in contradiction of a presidential campaign incantation: "small government,"
11) undermining the liberal accomplishment favorable to the general public, achieved by the "New Deal" in the Franklin Roosevelt administration, etc.,
12) expanding encroachment of developers' powers, to appropriate, i.e., grab, private property, by reinterpreting the concept of Eminent Domain.
In contrast, consider what liberalism has given to our nation.
1) Legal representation before the law.
2) Free high school education.
3) The right to vote.
4) The G. I. Bill.
5) Access to our representitives.
6) Social Security, Medicaid.
7) The Constitution.
8) Declaration of Independence.
9) Free press.
10) Women's Rights.
11) Protection Under the law.
12) Innocent Until proven guilty.
13) Freedom to Travel.
14) Personal Rights.
15) Political Rights.
16) Freedom of Religion.
17) Freedom from Religion.
18) Civil Rights.
19) Environmental Protection.
20) And much more.
Given the above, my primary concern is to encourage a
resurgence of the acceptance of the doctrine upon which our forefathers founded
this nation. After presenting some background for the doctrine of
shall delineate its elements, their division into two schools of thought, and
suggest the method by which the problems of liberalism can be overcome giving
the doctrine a unity that it badly needs.
It is evident, of course, that a paper limited as this is could not possibly deal with liberalism in its entire (world-wide) scope.
It would be extremely difficult, indeed, to discourse about the Philosophy of liberalism without at least mentioning its historical beginning. However, it is not an easy task to extricate that beginning from the history of mankind. In an absolute sense, we cannot say that liberalism "started" at such and such a date. So long as there has been man, there has been at least a trace of liberalism, however meager, in thought if not in action.
The use of the words "liberal" and "liberalism" to denote a particular social philosophy does not appear to occur earlier than the first decade of the nineteenth century. But the thing to which the words are applied is older. It can be traced back to Greek thought; some of its ideas, especially as to the importance of the free play of intelligence, may be found notably expressed in the funeral oration attributed to Pericles. (3)
I shall restrict myself to an examination only of a
limited period within which liberalism became a recognized concept.
It is necessary, however, before arriving at specific periods to look into the soil where the seeds of liberalism lay, gaining nutrition for the time when they would break out into the light of day.
The period of the Renaissance has been called the period of intellectual awakening. No longer was man bound only to the dictums of authority in the form of the church and the scriptures. Man's life was no longer to be conducted only in accordance with the rules laid down as necessary for the attainment of a good afterlife, as St. Augustine so prolifically proselytized.
The West, in the late part of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, looked to the original Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, and historical and scientific treatises.
Man's concept of himself and the universe took a drastic turn from the medieval concepts foisted upon him by the organized church. As a consequence, the scientific interests concerning nature, which were stirring in the fourteenth century, blossomed in great strength to revolutionize the concepts of the universe and man's relation to it.
Investigation into nature, and especially in the field of astronomy, stimulated our minds to such a degree that reflective and creative activity, until now subjugated by the church, manifested itself in a slow but irresistible forward drive.
A good part of mankind was free at last! Free from the apron strings of transcendental paternity, owing allegiance only to ideas of its own choosing, with no fear of an afterlife in purgatory.
The West saw that the Greeks and the Romans had built an enduring and magnificent civilization without recourse to revelations and supernatural sanctions of faith in a privileged origin and destiny for man.
Man, at last, could turn his mind from what might become of him in the hereafter to what he might be able to accomplish here on earth, in his daily life through his ingenuity and capacities.
The shackles that bound men's minds were being destroyed for those who chose to be free. It was during this "rebirth," of man that tremendous achievements took place which today effect our concepts in every phase of life.
To this period we owe the revival of learning, rise of science and the fine arts, recognition of humanism, and the need for education. Only through individual unchanneled thought and expression was all this possible. Individualism was beginning to stir; and its assertion was being manifested in every phase of the newly found fields of expression. True, there was suppression, but suppression was not enough to keep men from thinking and learning.
Especially to the rise of science does liberalism owe a great deal. It was the great achievements which science gave to the world that snapped the chains that held men prisoners to preconceived authoritarianism. Men like Galilei, Kepler, Copernicus, and a host of others, led the way at risk to their lives. They were followed in later centuries by Newton, Laplace, Herschel, Bessel, Fraunhofer, Bunsen, and Kerchoff, to mention a few. To the men in the above order starting with Newton, we owe among other things: the laws of motion and gravitation; the Nebular Hypothesis which though it does not apply to the formation of our solar system, might very well hold for the formation of stellar systems; improvement of the telescope; distance of the stars through the determination of the stellar parallax. The last names are important in the field of spectrum analysis revealing the chemical composition of the sun and distant stars.
What dogmatisms could stand against the weight of such achievements?
In the distant past, only 2 percent of the, considerably less, population did not believe in a god. Today, well over 20 percent do not. However, billions of dollars are continually being pored into the many forms of communications media by theistic authorities. And even though media reporters tend to be liberals, the media, controlled by heads of business, offer little to no counter information of anti-theistic concepts. They are, after all, money making conglomerates and cater to what a theistically oriented citizenry wants to hear. President George W. Bush frequently espouses his born-again Christianity. The actor, Mel Gibson tweaks sympathy for the legend of Christ's crucifixion in gory depiction. On and on it goes infecting every day of our lives. Little true education is being offered in our schooling institutions saturated with true-believing teachers -- and doctors. For these reasons, is it any wonder that there is a resurgence of " theistic faith among the uneducated and uninformed"?
Art, too, had its effect. It shifted attention from transcendentalism to the common man. We find great emphasis on the common man in such paintings as Courbet's "The Stone Breakers" (1849), "Uprising" by Daumier (1830-1848), "Waitress in a Beer Garden" by Manet (1879, and "The Burghers of Calais" by Rodin (1884-1888), not to mention later abstract and revolutionary mundane art forms.
Then we find such names as Wordsworth pleading for a return to nature, Carlyle waging battle against utilitarianism, Ruskin preaching the social importance of art, and Coleridge pleading for enduring institutions.
However, it is to the progress of science and invention that liberalism owes most. These brought about the industrial revolution. Liberalism found a fertile field in the rising commercial middle class for it pitted itself against the landed feudal aristocracy. Science was taken into the folds of production, and there was such a demand for trained specialists that it could not be met. Until that time only the aristocracies had the privilege of obtaining schooling or an education. The commercial class, however, had gained such power that they could begin to demand certain reforms. For one thing schooling had to be made accessible to the middle classes. When this was achieved, man's individualism really began to assert itself, for schooling leads to thinking, and thinking leads to the desire for expression. It was with the development of these qualities that liberalism first began to make itself felt with recognizable strength.
Liberalism, however, since the first period of its pronouncement had had a hazardous and checkered career. By locating and describing the various concepts left in its wake, we may determine to some degree its import for the present and the future.
Therefore, it is to be seen if to these various concepts there is not some method which might be applied in order to bring forth the best in each. Hazardous and checkered as its career has been, it, nevertheless has left an indelible mark upon the societies of most citizens of the world.
The doctrine of liberalism did not receive recognition until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But the ideological roots of liberalism were to be found in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. As for the "meaning," purpose, or idea of liberalism, when it was in the first stages of development, we find it meant the
. . . freedom of individuals from the restrictions imposed by state, church, class, and social custom. (4)
But 'freedom' is an abstract and relative term.
many of us are slaves to our ignorance of the damage that the abuse of language
does to our capacity to think clearly, critically, and analytically resulting in
decisions and actions that are detrimental to our lives and society.
It is obvious, however, that all restrictions could not be abolished; else how could order be maintained, contracts and morality upheld? Therefore, it would be safe to say that liberalism's chief motive was to test these restrictions in the glaring light of reason and the practicality of utility. Thus the liberalist offered a challenge to the conservatives who still feel, to this day that, traditions and history should determined the question of right.
What are the liberties which constitute the doctrine, liberalism?
It is surprising to note, in the seventeenth century, a demand for liberty in the exercise of law since it is obvious that law also restricts an individual. However, the purpose for such a demand is explained in that an entire community can be free only if each individual is free from fear of coercion, or infringement of his rights or property. "Liberty" means the right to be protected by law against arbitrary governments, despots, barbaric monarchies, and especially against barbaric or capricious individuals. John Locke very aptly remarked:
Absolute arbitrary power, or governing without settled standing laws, can neither of them consist with the ends of society and government, which men would not quit the freedom of the state of nature for, and tie themselves up under, were it not to preserve their lives, liberties, and fortunes and by stated rules of right and property to secure them peace and quiet. . . . For all the power the government has, being only for the good of society, as it ought not to be arbitrary and at pleasure, so it ought to be exercised by established and promulgated laws, that both the people must know their duty, and be safe and secure within the limits of the law, and the rulers too kept within their due bounds---.[My italics] (5)
Civil liberty is liberty only when the government is
impartially administered for the sole good of the entire community and
protection afforded for the rights under the law of each individual regardless
of class, sex, race, or position as long as one's rights do not infringe upon
those of others. Unfortunately, some of the powers of government are manipulated
to win votes for re-election.
Law is essential to liberty. It should be observed that it is not law as a king of despotic force but, rather, law based on principles which men have discovered to be best for society as a whole which gives liberty. However, there is a liberty which strikes closer to home for each individual than any of the other liberties. That is personal liberty. For even law, based on principles, does not mean much when it is exercised by other men unless those affected by the laws are free and able, intellectually and/or peacefully, to express their opinions in regard to the manner in which those laws are being exercised.
The problem of Democracy was seen to be not solved, hardly more than externally touched by establishment of universal suffrage and representative government. As Havelock Ellis has said, "We see now that the vote and the ballot box do not make the voter free from external pressure; and which is of more consequence, they do not necessarily free him from his own slavish instincts." (6)
We must remember, also, that laws in one age or one
section of the world may be oppressive laws in a later age or another part of
the world. Certainly the laws of slavery, for one, segregation laws, Adolph
Hitler's and Saddam Hussein's laws, and in our own nation laws against gay
marriages are perfect examples of that. We must be constantly aware whether and
to what degree the content of the existing laws may be oppressive whether to all
or to some. Liberty, therefore, is to be obtained not only by laws, but also by
the abolition of laws, when they are discovered to be too oppressive for the
good of the entire community, and also by the removal of tyrannical and
ideological administrations which, for their own ends, would suppress the
Such abolition and removal, if to be achieved without violence, can be done only if a people are permitted their personal liberties. To be sure personal liberty is a concept not easy to define. But it is for these liberties, however vague, when suppressed, that the passions and feelings of mankind rise to the highest pitch.
These liberties are freedom of thought, speech, religion, press, and peaceable assembly and discussion. The vagueness which surrounds these concepts, however, should not be overlooked.
Thought is the basis of all these personal liberties. And liberty of thought is
freedom from inquisition into opinions that a man forms in his own mind. (7)
But freedom of thought means very little if one is not
free to exchange those thoughts. We must not forget either that there is a limit
to which freedom of speech extends, whereupon it becomes indistinguishable from
action which is intent to incite disorder such as, to cite an overly used
expression, shouting "fire!" in a theater when there is none.
In religion, too, we find the ultimate problem is the right to freedom of thought and expression, i.e., to choose to believe in and worship a god as we please, not at all, and even to choose to participate in anti-theistic religions.
From an educational point of view, however, we do not have the freedom in our pre-college schools, the early years of developing important attributes of thinking, to examine the meanings of unfalsifiable theistic terminology.
There was and is a diversity of religions in the world. Some included human and still include animal sacrifices as a means of expression. Clearly, liberalism does not mean this kind of freedom of expression. Paul Hutchinson, to the contrary, wrote in Life Magazine, many years ago, that we should respect every man bowing before his god even if his forms of worship are sometimes repellent. Liberalism means, instead, a right to worship and to freedom of thought and expression which excludes injury to others and upholds public order.
But, 'injury', too, is a vague term. Injury to minds, by the abuse of language that fosters ignorance, does harm that begets immense harm.
Socrates admonished that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Is not one being educationally injured when one is denied the instructional means to examine the unfalsifiable language, particularly theistic, that is a major force in forming one's ideas, actions, and inter-relations with his fellow citizens and other citizens of the world?
Of prime importance is the freedom to choose those by whom we are to be governed. Our liberties cannot be assured or maintained if we lose or are denied the right to our own choice of representatives.
However, since we elect them only after they have been chosen by the powerful and influential for us to choose from, it is unfortunate, for many reasons, that the wrong leaders are so often elected.
Clearly each of us cannot be represented by our choice in the strict sense of the word. It is a physical impossibility for each of us to have his own choice. Therefore, what we do, as the theory goes, is come to an agreement whereby we will abide by the rule of the majority (actually the totality of the electoral college) in choosing our representatives. Upon the election of those individuals they automatically, in theory at least, become the representatives of the minority also.
The weakness in the concept of the electoral college, however, is that if a candidate wins by a majority of even one vote, in any given state, that candidate wins all the electoral votes in that state. Thereby the 49 percent of the citizens actually are not having their wishes recognized. This is the case, not because we agree to it, but because the law was imposed upon us by men in a distant age and no one has taken the initiative to change it.
Rousseau, however, showed that the sovereignty of a nation was in the hands of the people and that the "general will" was expressed in the majority vote.
This, of course flies in the face of evidence, first because the "general will" is a hypostatization, a metaphor, not a reality, and second, because evidence shows that some majorities rule and some don't as in the case or the electoral college, Supreme Court vs a lower State court's majority vote, and that of a popular majority: example Bush vs Gore 2001).
To be sure the doctrine of popular sovereignty has a different origin from that of the doctrine of civil liberties. But liberalism, today, has come to include all concepts which make for further "freedom" of individuals. And it is through popular sovereignty that liberty is sought, even if not achieved.
It is to be remembered that both Rousseau and John Staurt Mill believed that there was no justification in nature for a hierarchy of rulers and slaves, but, rather, that government is merely a trusty of the people to be cashiered by them at their will. But Mill believed that popular sovereignty was a threat to individual freedoms. He felt that society should interfere only if there was the possibility of harm to others.
This conduct (of an individual in a society) consists, first, in not injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain interests which , either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights; and secondly, in each person's bearing his share (to be fixed on some equitable principle) of the labors and sacrifices incurred for defending the society or its members from injury and molestation. These conditions society is justified in enforcing, at all costs to those who endeavor to withhold fulfillment. Nor is this all society may do. The acts of an individual may be hurtful to others or wanting in due consideration for their welfare, without going to the length of violating any of their constituted rights. (8)
This, of course is saying too much, for who is to
judge what is harm and when someone is being harmed.
All nations are plagued with a hierarchy of classes, consequently, the struggle for freedom, when pushed, also becomes a struggle for equality.
It is a caste system of a sort and in such a system we find restrictions of a religious or legal as well as social nature. For instance consider the present (the year 2005) in which exists the classes of the extremely rich and the poor. To cite a few other examples: In our own political system it is not the people who choose the men as candidates for whom they are to vote. Rather, such an honor is reserved for the class of the influentially strong. Unlimited education and health insurance are not free to all who wish them in the United States. They are reserved for those who can afford them, and for the wealthy. Those who by nature are not afflicted by the hidden face of inequality, i.e., the inability to reason among others, or by nature are exceptional and/or excellent at study and have a chance to compete for scholarships, get to college. And equal justice under the law? -- if you can afford the very best lawyers. There is no end to possible examples. But I shall give only one more; and to this as well as to education, Mill, himself gave attention, i.e., the equality of rights for women.
Wives should have the same rights and should receive the protection of the law, in the same manner as all other persons. (9)
To us who have taken women suffrage for granted, it
might do well to realize that there are still a few countries where suffrage is
In early liberal ideas, the thinkers advocated removal of restrictions that hampered the bourgeoisie. John Locke insisted upon the right to private property. This right, of course, went hand in hand with other personal rights of free speech, etc., which these thinkers rightly thought it was the duty of the government to insure and protect. These principles were still in force in the middle of the nineteenth century when conservatism represented the interests of landed property. It stood, also, for a state that insisted on being paternalistic and patriarchal. The liberalists saw it as a state that restricts action, therefore, they sought to evade or circumscribe its power.
Liberalism was predominantly a middle class movement. One of its chief doctrines was the sanctity of private property which included the right to dispose of it as the desire warranted so long as there was no infringement upon the rights of others. And in like manner it was felt that restrictions should be removed from the activities of businessmen. Thus emerged the policy "Laissez Faire" advocated by the Physiocrats, Adam Smith, and the Manchester School, in the early and middle eighteenth century. An industrial revolution had taken place. Natural law was regarded as more fundamental than man-made "artificial laws."
As a consequence, the Physiocrats, from whom Adam Smith took his cue, identified natural law with laws of free industrial production and free commercial exchange. But, France at that time was an agricultural country and the Physiocrats insisted that land was the source of a nations' wealth. In any event, Freedom in economics was identified with absence of government action. "Laissez Faire" liberalism was the result.
Bentham carried it a little further insisting that every restriction upon individual liberty whether economically politically or otherwise was a source of pain, and as a consequence limited one's pleasure. This applied not only to economics but to every other relevant field. For Bentham, the criterion of all law, i.e., all the efforts of government, is its effect upon the total happiness for the greatest number. He was not an advocate of natural rights, however. He felt that consequences, measure of policy, and judgment in the lives of individuals, not natural rights, were to be criteria.
Mill agreed with Bentham in that the happiness of the individual could be achieved only through the "Laissez Faire" policy. Mill, however, would subject the individual's pursuit of happiness to the well being of the community as a whole. This of course gave the hint to government to act when the greatest good for the greatest number was at question even though Mill set limits within which government had the right to act.
Among other considerations, then, the liberal movement is an attack on restrictions.
Yet, no sooner did these old restrictions fall by the wayside when new ones replaced them.
It is in these new restrictions that we find a shift of ground or a new branch of liberalism stemming from the old.
Whereas the earliest liberalism did away with restrictive local tariffs and established large free trade units, the newer branch took note of the shocking sweatshop conditions existent in the factories and the mines. Child labor laws had to be passed and laws such as the worker's compensation acts, employers' liability laws, reduction of hours of labor, and a labor code to protect individuals who were working themselves to death for a pittance.
At first the liberalists were extremely reluctant to allow such interference for it abrogated the right of free contract.
Along with freedom of contract, however, arose the question of association.
Capital felt it had the right to form associations, such as trusts and monopolies, which tended to increase its power. As a consequence, it became the duty of liberalism to protect individuals against unrestricted use of that power. Consequently, trade unions were formed to better offer that protection.
Here we see the issue of equality coming to the fore.
One of the main purposes of the union was to bring about a more equitable relationship between the worker and the employer.
But as the old adage implies, power is like an addictive drug demanding more power. Now the problem of the oppressive capacities of trade unions had to be dealt with. As a consequence the need for restrictions of some sort had become glaringly evident both in industry and in labor. It was here that the split in the ranks of liberalism began. There were the diehards of the old school who insisted that the individualistic freedom is of prime importance whereas the new school of thought was collectivistic liberalism that is
. . . associated with the use of governmental action for the aid of those at economic disadvantage and for alleviation of their conditions. (10)
However, the crack in the foundation of liberalism had
not at first been evident having been hidden by the optimism of the Victorian
It was only after a social upheaval brought about by wars, competition among classes, and intermingling of races that the weaknesses of the old liberalism became so obvious that its inefficiency in application stood out like a sore thumb. It seemed as though liberalism had reached its end, and the aura that attached itself to the doctrine at that time was, at least, according to John Dewey
. . . a large part of the belief now so current, that all liberalism is an outmoded doctrine. (11)
But the problem of obtaining freedom was far from being at an end. Instead, it was transformed into a much greater problem, such that an entire new social order would have to be established,
possessed of a spiritual authority that would nurture and direct the inner as well as the outer life of individuals. The problem of science was no longer merely technological applications for increase of material productivity, but imbuing the minds of individuals with the spirit of reasonableness fostered by social organization and contributing to its development. (12)
Our friends of the old school would still swear by
their principles of liberalism, and certainly its basic values, though some are
vague, are enduring and to be clasped with an iron grip by every individual.
Liberty, inherent capacities of individuals, free intelligent inquiry,
discussion and expression, these were the bulwarks of early liberalism -- long may
But they are not and were not sufficient when they were forced to go beyond the scope with which they contented themselves in the earlier period. The liberalists were not then concerned with the problem of equality nor with any feeling of responsibility for contributing to the furtherance of their fellowman. At that time, it was a question of each individual having the right to "row his own boat" protected by law. It was the failure of the early liberalist to see that effective liberty would always be dependent upon the social conditions of a particular age which left them unequipped to cope with new social changes.
Bentham, for instance, insisted upon a minimum of interference upon the lives of individuals by their rulers contending that the self-interest of the ruler must give way to the interests of his subjects. He failed to see, however, that forces of production were converging in such a way as to concentrate a like power of self-interest in the hands of a few whereby those few would have the same power of which he (Bentham) would deprive the ruler. It is evident something had to be done. But, to do it entailed the establishment of social control of economic forces in order for an approach to economic equality and liberty to be achieved.
Even today the old argument of self-dependence, initiative, property rights, and a multitude of others is being bandied about by the individualistic school in order to retard the growing awareness for the need of even more social institutions to bring about a more equitable relationship between the leaders of big business and the common man. Yet, it is these individuals who are creating the conditions that are forcing such awareness upon society.
The scope of this paper will not allow further development or exposition of the social problems that the "Laissez Faire" individualists, for their own reasons, chose to overlook.
In any case, I shall attempt to show the possible consequences inherent in their neglect to solve problems, and the means through which they could if they had chosen to.
Inasmuch as "property" has a much broader meaning than in earlier concepts of liberalism, it is inherent in the policy of "Laissez Faire" that someone's natural rights and property will be infringed upon.
Not for many years, has "property" been defined merely as a physical object, nor was it even for John Locke. For decades, it has been almost all-inclusive. One's reputation, appearance, abilities, legal rights, "natural rights," good will, trade name, thoughts, ideals, right to exclude, are aspects of property. The latter is based on the joint expectation of excluder and excluded, and that the sovereignty will back up that right. Property means all this and more as well as one's dominion over physical things that are the case by law.
Property is also a form of sovereignty since it rules over things. It is not synonymous with possession, however. It is more to be considered a right to exclude other persons, and a relationship pertaining to persons about things. It is for this reason that it was possible for such power as was and is achieved through "Laissez Faire" to be accumulated.
It should be obvious that these powers infringe upon the natural rights of other individuals, for surely it is the natural right of other individuals to retain their property and protect their right to exclusion without having to succumb to productive and economic forces built up by an accumulation and concentration of this power in the hands of the few. Or is it? Landed property can be condemned by the government "for the public good." It is because of such economic and social coercion that other civil rights tend to become meaningless.
And now as a result of the 2005-Supreme Court reinterpretation of eminent domain, Developers can appropriate private property to build businesses that will "improve the economy" by "supplying more opportunities for the creation of jobs," with "just" compensation of course. Yet to be determined is how it is possible to "compensate" for one's love and enjoyment of his home, community, location, and personal relationships that mean more to him than money can buy.
That the competitive system, which was thought of, by early liberals, as a means by which the latent abilities of individuals were to be evoked and directed into socially useful channels, is now a state of scarcely disguised battle hardly needs to be dwelt upon. That the control of the means of production by the few in legal possession operates as a standing agency of coercion of the many, may need emphasis in statement, but is surely evident to one who is willing to observe and honestly report the existing scene. It is foolish to regard the political state as the only agency now endowed with coercive power. Its exercise of this power is pale in contrast with that exercised by concentrated and organized property interests. (13)
Back of the appropriation of the few of the material resources of society lies the appropriation of the few in behalf of their own ends of the cultural, the spiritual, resources that are the products, not of the individuals who have taken possession but, of the cooperative work of humanity. (14)
It is obvious that big business exercises
flagrant infringements and economic repression upon the rights of both individuals and
The problem of liberalism today is to overcome these conditions by instigating a new social order. But this can be done only if science fulfills a task that till now, it has greatly neglected, i.e.,
. . . imbuing the minds or individuals with the spirit of reasonableness fostered by social organization (and the spirit of) contributing to its development. (15)
That it was overlooked but still arose from the fulfillment of early liberalism's concept of natural rights, i.e., "Laissez Faire," freedom of thought, expression, etc., was because of the need for social reorganization. A reorganization is that that is possible only as science forces its responsibility of discovering how and why individuals behave as they do, and after discovering this, finds a means of educating the public to absorb and utilize its findings to the betterment of society.
Education in its full meaning includes all the influences that go to form the attitudes and dispositions (of desire as well as belief) which constitute dominant habits of mind and character. (16)
This is a rather broad and general "definition of
education that I feel requires at least a little specificity.
Clearly, as I've indicated above, it is evident that our schooling institutions are grossly neglectful, in this regard. They pay little attention, if any, to how ignorance of the role played by unfalsifiable language effects, not only every aspect of our daily lives negatively but, more importantly, the degree to which our minds can develop clear, critical, and analytical thinking.
If our schooling institutions do not teach our citizens, and they have not, to be able to distinguish between verifiable as opposed to unfalsifiable language, and to the many abusive uses of the terms, 'truth' and 'knowledge,' they have neglected the most important aspect of education. Consequently, our citizens do not deserve to be recognized as having been educated, even if well schooled.
Is it any wonder, then, that our citizens blithely accept stopgap solutions instead of permanent ones and can be persuaded to partake of preemptive military action against a nation offering no immanent threat to us as in the case of George W. Bush's war on Iraq?
For more than a century, economic and material forces have shaped our society and, as has been remarked above, this was a direct result of the principles of early liberalism.
Security has been the goal of all our struggles, whereas it should be a common property of all individuals especially since there is such material abundance in the world. Security should be hand-maiden to a way of life in which man can grow intellectually and culturally to the scope of his abilities. By man, I mean all human beings, not a select few. And, by growth, I mean not a snail's pace growth which requires centuries, but rapid and extensive growth.
The only form of enduring social organization that is now possible is one in which the new forces of productivity [and security] are cooperatively controlled and used in the interests of the effective liberty and the cultural [and defensive] development of the individuals that constitute society. Such a society cannot be established by an unplanned and external convergence of the actions of separate individuals [and institutions] each of whom is bent on personal private advantage. (17) (Bracketed insertions are mine)
Surely the above speaks loudly also to such
institutions as the CIA, the FBI, and others that clearly were not communicating
with each other before February 1993 through the September 11, 2001
destruction of the twin towers and the thousands of people in them..
It is the task of science to compile the facts that are necessary to a planned society.
But let us be sure of what Dewey means by "science" and what the relation of science is to true education as opposed to mere schooling and training to manipulate numbers, words, and other data.
Science is taught in our schools. But very largely it appears in schools simply as another study, to be acquired by much of the same method as are employed in "learning" the older studies that are part of the curriculum. If it were treated as what it is, the method of intelligence in itself in action, than the method of science would be incarnate in every branch of study and every detail of learning. [My italics.] Thought would be connected with possibility of action and every mode of action would be reviewed to see its bearing upon the habits and ideas from which it sprang. (18)
In other words, science is
inquiry, not merely "learning. It requires an inquiring, clear,
critical, and analytical mind, not one that just sops up and stores trivia and
information in the brain, not merely absorbing and memorizing facts but in
searching out how facts relate to each other and the consequences of those
relations to himself, his family, his society, and to the world."
Until now science has confined itself mostly to technological development. These developments having been thrust upon the world created tremendous problems in society. No longer was schooling a culture reserved for the "upper crust." The necessity for trained minds became apparent when industry required large numbers of specialists to utilize the findings of science. It became compulsory that individuals of the "lower ranks" have access to schooling.
This called for certain mild reforms at the beginning in order to make it possible for them to acquire it. Today, science has a similar responsibility. This time to expose the psychological, legal, political, and sociological facts to laymen; not as is customary, to discover them and hide them in books which will be read only by a handful of individuals. The media, if they can disabuse themselves of greed for money, and find the moral strength to curtail emphasis on violence, sex, and mind-boggling mediocrity, could be, and in some instances are, helpful in raising the reasoning abilities of our citizens.
Also, science can make glaringly evident the deficiencies of our educational system. Science has to compete as an active force against the opposite forces that are found in long standing institutions and in the concepts and habits that have grown out of them.
If we are to discredit Marx's Philosophy of the inevitability of violence, it is necessary to examine the existing conflicts, educational, social, economic, political, theistically religious, etc., and "lay the cards on the table." This will require active effort on the part not only of science but also of analytical philosophy, for there are other forces which prefer that the truth of these matters be available only to the few whose personal interests are at stake and who know how to twist these truths to their own advantage. To this day, for instance, we have closed our minds to the historical dangers that theistic religion has foisted on the world in all of the conflicts mentioned above.
Propaganda to retain the early concepts of liberalism appealing to emotion rather than to reason will flow in torrents. But if science counters these claims and exposes the facts, reason will have its chance to interpret them, and society its chance to pass judgment.
The more the respective claims of the two are publicly and scientifically weighed, the more likely it is that the public interest will be disclosed and will be effective. (19)
Propaganda may be spread also to the effect that capitalism is responsible for our present social progress and that more such progress in on the way. The modern forces of production are those of scientific technology. But, scientific technology is nothing more than organized intelligence in action. Thus capitalism would take the credit for social advancement. But the thing it fails or refuses to recognize is that
coercion and oppression on a large scale exists. . . .these things are not the product of science and technology but of the perpetuation of old institutions and patterns untouched by scientific analysis. (20) [Italics, mine]
If these institutions had gone through a process of
change comparable in scope to the changes in science and technology, most of the
coercion and repression existing today would not be hampering social progress to
the extent that it is now.
Our legal system of property relations, in the extensive use of the term, has lagged far behind in development as compared to our productive and technological progress.
It is science and technology that have had the revolutionary and social effect while the legal system has been the relatively static element. (21)
It is here in the legal system, it seems to me, that
the scientific method would reap the greatest harvest. But, the harvest would be
to no avail unless, through some all embracing system of education, the facts
could be made known to everyone whereupon the use of reason, by the many, a
rational working economic and social system could be instigated for the
betterment of all mankind as against for the powerful few.
Aside from the fact that a defining characteristic of science is that it is self corrective, and relies on the language of mathematics, equally important is that it is founded, not only on observation, but also on the application of reason in every aspect of it.
In today's society the term 'science' is used in the strangest ways. We speak of a scientific cleaning of cesspools, of scientific this and that. There is hardly a commercial venture that is not spoken of as scientific.
I wish to cut through such abusive uses of the term and to place emphasis on the role of reason in science.
Once scientists have accumulated a host of facts from observation, the application of reason comes into play eventually by the world-wide community of science. The criterion of methodical reasoning is then applied to our existing knowledge.
Facts mean nothing in themselves. It is the interpretation of the facts that is important. It may be surmised that we have spoken of facts as if they could be accumulated once and for all. This of course is not at all the case. It is a recognized fact that we live in a changing world, in Platonic terms a "world of appearances." The facts of today may be obsolete tomorrow. But if we were to let recognition of this condition deter us from reasoning upon these facts we should indeed give up all hope of achievement of social progress.
But let us consider -- the whole of science is built on the ruins of opinions. What does it matter if some of our opinions are shown to be false on the discovery of new facts? Moreover, it is not sufficient to have an opinion. It must be examined in the arena of other opinions. Error in an analytical mind contributes to the finding of truth.
Whatever the facts are in any era, they must be weighed. That the facts come to us as experience is of prime importance, for experience is fallible and we learn the error of our judgments about experiences by further experiences. In like manner the facts that we wish the scientific method to expose are to be weighed in the light of further facts of which they will be compared and judged. The early liberalists
. . . put forward their ideas as immutable truths, good at all times and places; they had no idea of historic relativity either in general or in its application to themselves. (22)
This of course left no alternative in case (as they
were) of being wrong. One would, then, be left on the proverbial limb.
There are no
alternatives in such a method. This is the result of a lack of education in the
indiscriminate use of language.
Advocates of liberalism must realize that society is in flux, and principles must be altered to fit the facts of a given society and a certain time. This is the task of reason.
Consider the thinking of our forefathers when they framed our constitution and Declaration of independence. They had the foresight to write them in a language that would be open to an applicable interpretation that could be relevant to any age regardless of social or technical progress. With due respect to Benjamin Franklin, what did they know of electricity, automobiles, space ships, birth control, etc.?
Facts lead to experience and experience can be self-corrective. When we do not learn from experience, we open ourselves to all sorts of negative possibilities. When we accept a fact, we are in most cases accepting a sociological context. For this reason, we must be even more cautious as to the application of our reasoning processes.
Let us bear in mind, however, that learning to reason well is not something that can be acquired by osmosis from the study of other subjects. It is, in fact, an autonomous study. Great emphasis must be placed on study of the uses and abuses of language.
The body of accepted beliefs which we shall accumulate upon disclosure of sociological, legal, political, economic, and psychological facts will give way to a later second body of beliefs upon which agreement will be reached. This second body of beliefs will come to be known as evidence. That is not to say that further accumulation of facts will not alter the evidence. Indeed, it most probably will, and only in this way will progress be obtained. It is through the scientific method that this evidence can be compiled in any area of experience one can imagine.
The experiences or evidence that we shall accept, will be those which are supported by other experiences -- the more, the better. Therefore, liberalism should make a careful study of its history and take note of all the facts in its development. And let it be aware that
every problem that arises, personal or collective, simple or complex, is solved only by selecting material from the store of knowledge amassed in past experience and by bringing into play habits already formed. But the habits and the knowledge have to be modified to meet the new conditions. . . . The objection that the method of intelligence has been tried and failed is wholly aside from the point, since the crux of the present situation is that it has not been tried under such conditions as now exists, (23)
If liberalism is to realize its ends which are
liberty and the opportunity of individuals to secure full realization of their potentialities, (24)
then, it is incumbent upon it to continuously examine and study its history so that it may guide its own actions in the future. But let us remember that this will be possible only (and I repeat) if and when scientific analysis is utilized to imbue
the minds of individuals with the spirit of reasonableness fostered by social organization (and the spirit of) contributing to its own development. (25)
However, let us not delude ourselves about the future
of liberalism not only because of anti-intellectualism and conservative forces
but also because human nature is so multifaceted.
Even assuming that everyone acted with personal good intentions, it is the different and diverse conceptions of what constitutes "benefit of mankind" that causes our conflicts. If we add to that the countless differences in the nature of our personalities, we may begin to understand the difficulties facing liberalism.
One needs only to observe personal, national, political, cultural, religious, and philosophical differences and the character of those in power seeking to retain it, to understand the enormity of liberalism's task.
It is essential to remain aware of the dichotomy between ideals and reality. Despite the efforts of our liberal forefathers to imbue our Constitution and Declaration Of Independence with guaranteed rights, let us not ever forget that they were not intended to apply to all the residents of our nation; many were subjected to gross injustices.
For instance, the abolition of slavery and institution of women's rights were goals achieved only through long and bitter struggles by liberal-minded inclinations.
The better side of human nature enabled by the prescribed inherent quality of those ideals guided us against unjust decisions stemming from a diversity of human sources.
However, ideals by their nature are impossible goals to reach. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility forever to strive to achieve them.
Consequently, the character of our nation is ever in a process of periodically alternating between liberalism and conservatism even though our underlying ideals were meant to be inherently liberal. The nature of that change is dependent upon the clarity of thought and ability to reason that our citizens are capable, or not, of voting intelligently for candidates from among those chosen for us by the political parties.
It is a fact of human nature that whatever one's position of authority or power or responsibility to the public, for example in the Presidency or on the Supreme Court, is, interpretations of the law and decisions will be predicated upon upbringing, beliefs, prejudices, ambitions, and concepts of right and wrong.
Assuming we could elect only philosopher Kings, as Plato suggested, considering that their fundamental mantra is "to agree to disagree," we can only hope that reason will save us despite the foibles of human nature with all its diversity and failings.
Reason, after all is predicated on our premises. They in turn are based upon our nurturing, schooling, ambitions, needs, personal experiences, prejudices, and degree of education. Each of us acts on his deepest convictions and/or on the persuasions of his political party even when there is evidence that it is not in his own best interests to do so.
If we have not been educated to recognize that none of us has the absolute truth and that we must ever be on guard against making judgments and decisions based merely on deep convictions, there is little hope that our citizens will fully experience the ideals our liberal-minded founding fathers planned for us.
So long as wealth, power, authority, and influence through the manipulation, cooperation, or lack of responsibility of the media, and the public's lack of understanding the uses and abuses of language are in control of our personal decisions, there will be limited progress in achieving and maintaining the goals of liberalism.
Moreover, as our leaders continue to succeed in persuading us to apply our wealth and resources to waging wars, building prisons, and enabling the rich to become richer at the expense of the indigent, the helpless, and the uneducated, while offering a pittance to alleviating poverty, supporting health programs, and educating the minds of our citizens, while our educational institutions remain internally political emphasizing schooling rather than educating the minds of our citizens, there is little hope that liberalism will be well received by the general public.
The challenges for liberalism in the twenty-first
century are daunting. Scientific knowledge and technology are expanding
exponentially. Our elected leaders do not seem to be up to the task primarily
because they are not tuned to the nature of science. Their decisions are made,
too often, on the basis of politics than on the facts of science that are
verifiably evident. For instance, on the issue of stem cells, science is
required to take a backseat as is the case with the definition of what is a
person. Even as other scientists in other nations are continuing to do research
in stem cells and cloning of human beings, ours will not consider any possible
advantages of doing so. To cite, Yogi Barra, "Deja vu, "all over again."
Moreover, it is beyond understanding that any informed person could believe that on the day of conception, the "mating" of a male sperm and the egg of a women can be conceived to be a person; certainly life, it existed even before the mating, but, absolutely not a person. Is it not clear that a person is verifiably in a constant state of change, and thereby is (his history of experiences) conditioned by his physical constitution, environment, and experiences? Is it not true that the "mating" does not yet possess a brain and will not for a few months?
It is a matter of great importance to have insight into the future and some of the problems liberalism will be faced with, problems for which it may or may not be able to contribute solutions, depending on whether the public has relinquished its right to contribute to them.
The leaders of our governments, society, and educational institutions too often are in the habit of making decisions for political reasons and/or "closing the barn door after the horse is stolen." Instead of planning ahead, they respond to problems arising from previous decisions. Crises, which they permit, or cause, to arise and which could well approach catastrophic proportions, are usually handled with inept crash programs, i.e., too little, to late, and only after tremendous harm, has already been wreaked upon us, for example, "killing the earth," and possibly eventually the human race.
Since it is the business of science to acquire knowledge, a full-time career in itself, it falls upon governments and their people through their politicians to put that knowledge to good rather than to bad use. Experience, however, has shown us that governments and politicians are too often incompetent for want of understanding the possible benefits of science. Or, they use the achievements of science for bad purposes. These problems are already in the making and are hidden on the draft boards of the world.
Liberalism, now, and in the past, has maintained a strong influence on the ethics of our nation. The history of the sciences, with which liberalism has had to deal, has shown us that major discoveries and changes in the development of science have brought concomitant changes not only in what is commonly called our "common sense" view of the world but especially in concepts of morality. It is here that liberalism can exert enormous influence.
In the distant past life was cheap and our longevity was considerably less. The advent of science, enabling us to save lives, and a technology enabling mass destruction, have brought conflicting moralities regarding life -- depending on the cultures at peace or at war.
World economics, too, plays a part indirectly through science and technology. Witness America's changing attitudes about saving Israel in view of energy consumption (and consequent shortages) made possible by science, technology, and political maneuvering. The probable advent of a population explosion, too, has posed new ethical questions. Even the advent of a computer-controlled world, giving rise to such statements, as "our computer is never wrong" makes us victims of its tyranny.
Such developments, and many other issues, have raised the spectra of new quandaries, aggravating liberalism's efforts to deal with them, and give rise to new questioning as to what is ethical and what is not.
New developments in detecting devices, electronic spying, and computer invasion have already raised the frightening probability of loss of privacy, not merely because government's "big brother" spies on us but also because even the phone companies listen in on our private conversations -- if we can believe news reports. And, what of cell phones? You're on the air!
Science has contributed so much to the population bomb that government itself has become unwieldy and justice as a result is either so delayed that it ceases to be justice. Plea-bargaining becomes an economic necessity causing our jails to have revolving doors or being over-night motels for want of space.
In the not too distant future, computers, now able to make simple choices of action, not programmed, will be capable of making decisions also of moral actions. We are fast approaching the age of the cyborgs, to a minor degree some of us are already there. As we grow old, we will merely replace our biological organs with artificial ones that will work so efficiently that we will one day demand the removal of biological organs before a diseased condition demands it. Nor is the day too far distant when, like the science fiction theme, surgeons will transplant brains into young or aging bodies.
Our television sets will be either controlled or replaced by nano technology chips inserted in our brains that will stimulate any part of the brain we may choose. We will not have to stir from our comfortable armchairs to experience the most exhilarating pleasures through virtual reality or physically drive a car. It may even enable us to communicate through mental telepathy.
There is little doubt that our knowledge of man, technology, and the brain, is becoming so extensive, and will more so, that we shall be able to duplicate, in the factory, artificial replicas of ourselves and our loved ones.
New truths will inundate us and we shall be faced with difficult moral choices for the realities of tomorrow are hardly conceivable by the masses of today. Such realities will cause moral upheavals because we as a society do not keep abreast of what is about to, or eventually will, descend upon us. Our moral decisions will be hasty ones made with insufficient preparation in a crash-program crisis-situation.
Liberalism is already dealing with some of those issues cited below, in the foreseeable future it will be forced to deal with others listed and, in the distant future, with issues beyond the imagination of most of us:
(3) Biological and artificial transplants,
(4) Extra-terrestrial intelligence and moral systems,
(5) Extra-terrestrial religion,
(6) Absence of organized religion,
(7) The possible " death of God,"
(8) Embryonic surgery,
(9) Test-tube babies,
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(10) Fathers' rights (after use of their sperm),
(11) Planetary governments (and wars?),
(14) Right to die,
(15) Control of population (new laws),
(16) Social or secular religion,
(17) Undersea cities,
(18) Extra-planetary cities,
(19) Orbital cities,
(10) Generational spaceships,
(21) Alien life forms,
(22) Genetic or chromosome manipulation,
(23) Artificial intelligence,
(24) Nano technology,
(25) Global warming,
(26) Identity theft,
(27) Business intrusion into privacy,
(28) Deciding gender desired of unborn child,
(29) Stem cells,
(31) Good Health as a right,
(32) Government by the rich,
(33) Governmental control of science,
(34) Governmental interference with personal issues,
(35) Protection of Earth's environment,
(36) The politicizing of religion,
(37) Pre-designed children.
It will be the task of
liberalism, in conflict with
conservatism, to examine the degree to which science may replace religion as the
authoritative source of moral, epistemological, and metaphysical concepts such
as "knowledge is the highest virtue," and "knowledge at any
Liberalism must face the daunting task of determining what kind of knowledge is worth pursuing and what kind is not and whether there is any moral way that progress in the attainment of knowledge can, should, or ought to be curtailed.