Portal:Liberalism
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Portal:Liberalism

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Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support free markets, free trade, limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among Western philosophers and economists. Liberalism sought to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law. Liberals also ended mercantilist policies, royal monopolies and other barriers to trade, instead promoting free trade and free markets. Philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct tradition, based on the social contract, arguing that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property and governments must not violate these rights. While the British liberal tradition has emphasized expanding democracy, French liberalism has emphasized rejecting authoritarianism and is linked to nation-building. (Full article...)

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Eleanor Roosevelt UDHR.jpg

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings. It was accepted by the General Assembly as Resolution 217 during its third session on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the 58 members of the United Nations at the time, 48 voted in favour, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

Considered a foundational text in the history of human and civil rights, the Declaration consists of 30 articles detailing an individual's "basic rights and fundamental freedoms" and affirming their universal character as inherent, inalienable, and applicable to all human beings. Adopted as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", the UDHR commits nations to recognize all humans as being "born free and equal in dignity and rights" regardless of "nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status". The Declaration is considered a "milestone document" for its "universalist language", which makes no reference to a particular culture, political system, or religion. It directly inspired the development of international human rights law, and was the first step in the formulation of the International Bill of Human Rights, which was completed in 1966 and came into force in 1976. (Full article...)

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Portrait of Locke by Godfrey Kneller in 1697
Portrait of Locke in 1697 by Godfrey Kneller

John Locke (; 29 August 1632 - 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, Locke is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American Revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that, at birth, the mind was a blank slate, or tabula rasa. Contrary to Cartesian philosophy based on pre-existing concepts, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception, a concept now known as empiricism. Demonstrating the ideology of science in his observations, whereby something must be capable of being tested repeatedly and that nothing is exempt from being disproved, Locke stated that "whatever I write, as soon as I discover it not to be true, my hand shall be the forwardest to throw it into the fire". Such is one example of Locke's belief in empiricism. (Full article...)

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-- Norberto Bobbio, Liberalism and Democracy, 1985.

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