In society, everyone holds their personal worldview, allowing multiple political philosophies to beestablished. Liberalism, a liberty tradition philosophy that portrays a favorable view of the state, stresses autonomous citizens, a vital aspect of a free society. Liberalism acknowledges that citizens have diverse perspectives regarding issues; therefore, autonomy is quintessential. However, primary social goods are requisite for a sovereign, moral society. According to Rawls, these goods consist of “the basic rights and liberties; freedom of movement, and free choice among a wide range of occupations; the powers of offices and positions of responsibility; income and wealth; the social bases of self-respect: the recognition by social institutions that gives citizens a sense of self-worth and the confidence to carry out their plans.” How citizens relish primary social goods is determined by society’s basic structure, encompassed by the economy, legal system, workplaces, family to name a few. Citizens in a nation-state depend on society for social goods, which are determined by institutional arrangements. Privilege is innate to society; however, each individual is entitled to equivalent social goods, regardless of social position.
Liberalism puts an emphasis on fairness. In society, citizens have varying strengths and weaknesses; some individuals are academics, while others are laborers. While society may value, moreover, reward particular fortes over others, everyone, regardless of their abilities, must be on a level playing field to develop their respective talents equally.
A common misconception regarding liberalism states it endorses government handouts due to the philosophy’s redistributive nature. While liberalism has a favorable view regarding use of state power, the government should not be distributive. Instead, it regulates functional, structural, institutional, and social arrangements where primary social goods are fairly distributed systematically. Additionally, personal autonomy is essential; therefore, the state must remain a neutral entity, protecting rights by implementing laws. Elected governmental officials must refrain from mandating an official religion, language, or any aspect that may influence one’s comprehensive doctrine given that citizens forming their personal worldview is a vital aspect to society.
Conserving tradition and minimal governmental involvement are the driving forces behind traditionalist conservatism. Previous generations create lifestyles, furthermore passed down, generating valuable traditions. Safeguarding these aspects is vital for citizens living sound lives, moreover, allowing society to prosper. Traditionalist conservatism argues against change. Throughout generations, traditions have been constructively shaping society. Changing the status quo can be disastrous, compromising traditional society; therefore, policymakers must act cautiously whenever an incremental change is implemented. Conservatives stress the magnitude of the encumbered self, which obligates individuals to partake in communities since having relationships with other citizens is an example of a vital tradition. Additionally, conservativism believes fairness is overrated; acting selfishly is an innate behavior, rendering traditions critical for keeping humans in line.
Traditionalist conservatism’s view regarding the state’s role varies based on how compliant society is regarding tradition. In the instance where a community follows tradition, the state should have limited governmental intervention. When following traditions, citizens are considered to be living good, prosperous lives, granting those flourishing communities significant autonomy. When handling a society that disobeys tradition, the state may intervene; however, on the economic side, conservativism believes the state’s default should be hands-off. Another aspect of the state is the rejection of being a neutral entity. Unlike in liberalism, where citizens are free, moreover encouraged to develop their personal comprehensive doctrines without outside interference, traditionalist conservatism believes certain comprehensive doctrines will lead individuals astray from the traditional life.
In contrast to the liberal policy of governmental redistribution, conservatism concurs with other right-wing political philosophies in keeping a small state. Laissez-faire policies where wealthy individuals redistribute their finances through trickle-down economics is a crucial conservative ideology. The premise is that capitalism leads certain individuals to build prosperous businesses, which creates a rippling effect of opportunities. The working-class benefits from salaried job opportunities, thereby creating discretionary income for luxury items, which further boosts the economy. A better economic infrastructure leads to further financial gains for businesses of all sizes from Amazon and The Walt Disney Corporation to Mom and Pop shops and flea market vendors, creating additional opportunities for the working class.
Baehr, Amy. Philosophy, Public Life and the State. (Unpublished manuscript, on file with the author).
Hamilton, Andy, “Conservatism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2020/entries/conservatism/>.
Wenar, Leif, “John Rawls”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/rawls/>.