Liberalism : The Basics book cover
1st Edition

The Basics

ISBN 9780815362920
Published December 3, 2018 by Routledge
230 Pages

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Book Description

Liberalism: The Basics is an engaging and accessible introduction to liberalism. The author provides a comprehensive overview of liberal practices, liberal values and critically analyses liberal theories, allowing for a richer understanding of liberalism as a whole.

The book is divided into three parts:

  • Liberal practices: the rule of law, free speech, freedom of association and movement, economic freedom and sexual freedom.
  • Liberal values: freedom, autonomy, equality, and the universal values of political societies – the communal identity – and well-being of their members.
  • Liberal theories: natural rights, utilitarianism, Kant's rationalism and the contemporary theories of John Rawls and the post-Rawlsians.

Presented in a clear and concise way, this book will be an ideal introduction for students and scholars of liberalism, political philosophy, political theory and political ideology.

Table of Contents


Part I: Liberal Practices

1. The Idea of a Practice and the Initial Distinction between Liberal and Illiberal Societies

2. The Rule of Law

3. Free Speech

4. Freedom of Association and Movement

5. Economic Freedom

6. Sexual Freedom

Part II: Liberal Values


7. The Idea and Value of Freedom

8. The Equality of the Participants

9. Community

10. Liberalism and Human Well-being

Part III: Liberal Theories


11. Libertarian Theories

12. Utilitarian Theories of Liberalism

13. Kant's Idea of Freedom as Rational Self-determination

14. Contemporary Theories of Liberalism

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John Charvet is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics, UK. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University, USA, and a Visiting Fellow of the Australian National University, Australia.


"John Charvet’s Liberalism is lively, opinionated, full of examples, and always admirably clear. The route from practices to values to theory takes the reader from actual liberal societies to its inner architecture. Anyone wanting to know what liberalism stands for and why, need look no further than this book." – Jonathan Seglow, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

"This is a lively and original introduction to liberalism. Charvet articulates a distinctive understanding of liberalism as set of practices embedded in modern social life and provides an engaging exploration of the role played by liberal ideas in contemporary political controversies." - Cillian McBride, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.