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Articles tagged “liberty”

On the Morality of Government

“The individual is sovereign”

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln, in his famous Gettysburg Address, quoted the words of the fourteenth century philosopher John Wycliffe, that Government should be “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Wycliffe and his followers, the Lollards, were the predecessors of the protestants that emerged in force centuries later by championing individuality against temporal authority. If Wycliffe and Lincoln’s ideal of government were realised, questioning the role of government would be counterintuitive; why should people need to limit their power over themselves? The need for restrictions on government has largely arisen due to its …

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0 comments | Tags: government, liberty, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, individuality, society, morality, politics, personal freedom, John Wycliffe, Abraham Lincoln

Debate report: Should we be proud to be patriotic?

What does it mean to be patriotic?

Durham Union Society’s third debate, ‘This House is Proud to be Patriotic’, commenced late Friday evening.

Speaking in support of the motion was media lawyer, Mark Lewis. Lewis argued that “the word ‘patriotic’ has developed a meaning of being a racist, nationalist, or supremacist”, which he disagreed with.

Explaining how his grandparents were refugees who sought British asylum, he said that they would be “proud” he is able to enjoy “the rights being a British citizen gives”. He claims this is not because of “something like the BNP”, but because he has a …

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0 comments | Tags: World War Two, First World War, durham union society, liberty, Iraq war, patriotism, Peter Tatchell, Debate Report

Thug Culture

We can offer you a certain amount of protection… for a small fee, of course

Last week I stumbled across yet another article that horrified me, except this time it was not an ill-conceived rant against societal progression, but a piece of excellent digging carried out by The Guardian (excuse the shameless left-wing plug!). The police departments of the West Midlands, which is worryingly my home turf, and Surrey have proposed contracting out some of their workload to private security companies. But surely only mundane tasks, only the bureaucracy, I hear you cry. Some of it is indeed …

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1 comment | Tags: police, NHS, liberty, crime, politics, law

Why I am still a Lib Dem: from liberal philosophy comes liberal policies in government

The Liberal Democrats are trying to stick to their party’s principles

In my first article for this column I feel for some reason the need to justify why, as a student, I am still an active Liberal Democrat supporter. During the Iraq War and the worst excesses of New Labour this question would have been thought completely unnecessary, so I believe a little humility is required in answering this question.

First, the boring philosophical reason: I am a liberal, as are all the members of the university party here in Durham. We often differ in quite what sort of …

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0 comments | Tags: liberalism, Ideology, liberty, Liberal Democrats

Ban the Burkha?

A symbol of modesty, oppression, fear or liberty?

Cameron Unveils Burkha Ban” would be a sensational newspaper headline. Those accustomed to the more multicultural parts of 21st Century Britain would be shocked and incredulous in the face of such a decision by our government; yet according to a 2011 YouGov poll, a whopping 66% of our population would warmly welcome such a motion. The question of whether to ban face-covering Muslim veils has been asked by a number of European governments in the past few years, with some answering in the affirmative, just like our apparent majority; since …

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3 comments | Tags: Veil, liberty, religious intolerance, Islam

The Philosophical Basis of Egalitarianism: Autonomy

In the previous article, I discussed the notion of liberty – freedom from outside interference. I suggested that an ethical view that in which liberty outweighs any other value will fall short of recognising the demands of substantive egalitarianism. This brings us to the question of why we should take these demands seriously. I suggest that we can start with so-called “positive” liberty, which I shall term autonomy. Autonomy is self-governance, the ability to act, to exercise one’s volition. To be autonomous is not merely to be free from external prohibitions on doing what one wills; it is …

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2 comments | Tags: Value, Autonomy, liberty, Freedom, Egalitarianism, equality

The Philosophical Basis of Egalitarianism: The Limits of Liberty

Equality and fairness have become increasingly prominent political topics of late. A number of issues, chief among them banking sector remuneration and cost-cutting measures in public services, directly involve claims about equality and worries that inequalities are being ignored or fostered. In this series, I shall not examine these political or legal issues, but consider rather the philosophical basis for treating equality as important. Why, and in what sense, are people equal? What does this fact, if it is one, demand of us?

Very roughly, I shall argue that we should treat people with dignity; this will involve treating …

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2 comments | Tags: liberty, Freedom, Egalitarianism, Ethics, equality