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.

Can foreign intervention lead to peaceful solutions?

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

  • 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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What is classical liberalism?

As a moral and political philosophy, classical liberalism lays a framework for the good society.

  • The moral and political philosophy known as classical liberalism is built around a number of core concepts, including, perhaps most importantly, human dignity and individual liberty.
  • Emily Chamlee-Wright, president of the Institute for Humane Studies, introduces these two principles as forces that shape the liberal notion of justice. This applies to both individuals' treatment of others, as well as the government's treatment of individuals.
  • This just conduct contributes to the liberal ideal: the good society. By emphasizing the individual, liberalism encourages collaboration and cooperation while also offering the freedom to make choices and learn from failure.
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Lincoln’s law: How did the Civil War change the Constitution?

Does the President get to decide when to ignore the law?

  • During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln decided to suspend habeas corpus, a protection in the Constitution that prohibited imprisonment without a trial.
  • From Lincoln's point of view, following the law to the letter during that unprecedented and pivotal moment in history (i.e. the threat of war and secession from the Union) would put lawfulness itself at risk, so some restrictions of civil liberties were necessary.
  • The war and the president's actions changed how the founding document is interpreted and sometimes challenged by the rule of men.
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War is an ecological catastrophe

Researchers believe that war exacerbates climate change, threatening the environment and making future wars more likely.

Image Source: Stocktrek / Getty Images
  • In times of war, otherwise atrocious crimes against nature become routine.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels in the world.
  • By polluting the earth to prepare for war, the Pentagon prepares a world in which war becomes more likely.
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