The Liberal Predicament: Historical or Logical?
Politics, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 1-7, February 1995
15 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010
Date Written: 1995
Like latter-day Aristotelians, liberal political thinkers find themselves instinctively attracted to the middle ground on many questions. There are, of course, well known dangers in yielding to this instinct, in political practice as well as in political theory: as is frequently remarked, many accidents occur in the middle of the road - or, as a Texas politician more colourfully put it, there's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow lines and dead armadillos. We agree with the implication of this remark: liberals need to be more decisive. However, to help them be so, this paper engages in a kind of meta-liberalism, which tries to find some common ground between two distinct ways of thinking about liberalism. We argue that liberal political thinking needs to combine the advantages of what we shall refer to as the historical and the logical approaches to current liberal dilemmas. What we are urging is perhaps less a middle-of-the-road approach than a way of getting the traffic in both lanes to move in the same direction.
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