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In this course, Professor Jeremy Jennings (King’s College, London) provides an overview of Liberalism from its origins to the present day. In the first module, we provide a broad introduction to liberalism as a political philosophy, focusing in particular on its origins in the sixteenth century and its evolution between the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries. In the second module, we look more closely at the development of liberalism in the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing in particular on the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Mary Wollstonecraft. In the third module, we think about the contribution to liberalism of John Stuart Mill, before turning in the fourth module to the application of liberalism to the economic sphere. In the fifth module, we think about the emergence of new liberalism at the beginning of the twentieth century, focusing especially on the work of John Maynard Keynes, J. A. Hobson, and Leonard Hobhouse, before turning in the sixth module to consider the development of liberalism in the post-war period and the works of Raymond Aron, Karl Popper, Isaiah Berlin and (especially) Friedrich Hayek. Finally, in the seventh module, we focus on one of the most important work of political philosophy in the last fifty years – John Rawls’ Theory of Justice.
In this module, we provide an broad introduction to liberalism as a political philosophy, focusing in particular on: (i) the historical context for the rise of liberalism; (ii) the difficulty of finding a single definition of liberalism; (iii) some of the key concerns in liberal political discourse, e.g. liberty, rights, the rule of law, etc. (iv) the changing fortunes of liberalism as a political ideology between the 19th and 21st centuries; (v) the ideological opponents of liberalism.
King's College London