Liam Bright’s recent post – Why I Am Not A Liberal – was exciting, and I want to get in on the action. But others better qualified than me have replied to the philosophical points. Liam is linking some of those on the original post as he sees them. So I thought maybe I could make a historical-philosophical point. This is a rush job, and I’m shooting from the hip, so don’t hold me too hard to anything I say here.
Liam follows many contemporary liberals in tracing the roots of modern liberalism to early modern arguments for religious toleration. There’s a canon of big names that liberals are accustomed to dropping (let’s call it the Online Library of Liberty). The real big fish tend to be Protestants: John Locke and Pierre Bayle, for example. Modern liberals trace to them the notion that the state should be neutral on what Rawls called “comprehensive doctrines” and what early modern tolerationists would have called “confessions of faith”.Continue reading “From Protestant Toleration to Capitalist Neutrality”