What authority should government have over our actions?

The ability to interact peacefully and voluntarily provides individuals a better quality of life.

  • In classical liberal philosophy, voluntary action says the scope of legitimate government authority is extremely narrow.
  • While not all classical liberals agree on immigration policy, the question remains: What right does a government have to stop someone from moving to another country should they so choose?
  • As an immigrant, himself, Georgetown University professor Peter Jaworski invites us to consider the freest countries in the world and examine the economic freedom and civil liberties their citizens enjoy.

Why the presumption of good faith can make our lives civil again

Taking time for thoughtful consideration has fallen out of fashion, writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. How can we restore good faith and good judgement to our increasingly polarized conversations?

  • The clamor of the crowd during a heated discussion can make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. Adam Smith wrote that the loudness of blame can stupefy our good judgment.
  • Equally, when we're talking with just one other person, our previous assumptions and knee-jerk reactions can cloud our good judgment.
  • If you want to find clarity in moments like that, Emily Chamlee-Wright recommends practicing the presumption of good faith. That means that we should presume, unless we have good evidence to the contrary, that the other person's intent is not to deceive or to offend us, but to learn our point of view.
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How far does individual freedom reach?

The costs of prohibition are great, but can people be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves?

  • Classical liberals favor democracy because it operates as a ruling of the people by the people, rather than rule by someone else.
  • This lends itself to the concept of negative freedom, or freedom from being compelled by the state or other authority to do something. So Daniel Jacobson, professor of philosophy at University of Michigan, raises the question: Do we have absolute sovereignty over our bodies?
  • The crucial point for liberalism is that liberty ought to be the default. It shouldn't be easy to justify compulsion.
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Can foreign intervention lead to peaceful solutions?

Despite potential good intentions, interventionist policies are often viewed by classical liberals as violations of individual freedoms.

Can foreign intervention manifest peaceful solutions? | Abigail Blanco
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  • Intervention covers a range of activity broader than just war. Some interventions have more humanitarian aims, such as disaster relief and development aid.
  • Oftentimes, the drive behind many instances of intervention involves some form of political, economic, or social outcome.
  • There are important questions to consider regarding knowledge, goals, incentives, and unintended consequences. The answers to these indicate whether an intervention is necessary and appropriate.
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How does the rule of law promote a free society?

In classical liberal philosophy, individual pursuit of happiness is made possible by a framework of law.

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  • The rule of law as a principle has a philosophical history before it was popularized by classical liberalism, which can be traced back to Greek philosopher Aristotle.
  • The classical liberal conception of laws draws upon this pre-history but differs slightly. Yes, the end goal is the common good, however "goodness" varies by individual.
  • In this way of thinking, instead of telling us what will make us happy, law serves as the framework that allows us to pursue our own unique happiness.
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Is social media killing intellectual humility?

"One way the internet distorts our picture of ourselves is by feeding the human tendency to overestimate our knowledge of how the world works," writes philosophy professor Michael Patrick Lynch.

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  • Social media echo chambers have made us overconfident in our knowledge and abilities.
  • Social psychologists have shown that publicly committing to an opinion makes you less willing to change your mind.
  • To avoid a descent into epistemic arrogance and tribalism, we need to use social media with deep humility.
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