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Liberal Group: John Speaking
Current speaker Current speaker Current speakerI agree with what Ann just said, even though she and I have differences about some aspects of modern liberalism.

For me, modern liberalism has always been organized around my idea of an ideal society. That ideal society is one in which every individual is able to develop his or her capacities as much as possible (with moral limits, of course).

A society that fosters that sort of universal individual development has to be organized in certain ways. The major institutions -- including government, education, and property -- have to be set up in such a way as to create the conditions in which people can achieve that sort of development.

If we want to translate this ideal into the language of rights, we could say that personal development is the fundamental value to be fostered and that every individual has a right to the conditions required to develop his or her capacities (always with hard work and within moral limits). In that case, the role of government is to create or maintain those conditions.

So we can see a shift from the older classical liberalism:

Development of capacity replaces freedom from interference as the fundamental value.

The right to the conditions required for personal development replaces the right to non-interference as the core individual right.

Maintaining the conditions of development replaces protecting liberty as the main role of government. (Of course, in both cases, government must suppress violence, prevent fraud, keep the peace, protect the nation, and enforce valid contracts.)

In order to maintain the conditions of development, individuals must have welfare rights that classical liberalism does not recognize. Furthermore, to maintain those conditions, property rights, markets, and freedom of contract must be redefined in ways that the older liberalism would not dream of doing.

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