Liberals see humans as self-seeking creatures who, if they have the power, will naturally use it for their own benefit and at the expense of others. In this sense, all governments are potential tyrannies against the individual and so pose a constant threat to individual liberty.
Constitutionalism offers the prospect of limiting the effects of such behaviour. The introduction of external usually legal constraints is able to do this.
This can be done through a written constitution, which codifies the major powers and responsibilities of government institutions within a single document. A notable example is the US constitution. A bill of rights may also exist.
This entrenches individual rights by providing a legal definition of the relationship between the individual and the state. In the absence of a written constitution and bill of rights, such as in the UK, the importance of statute law has been stressed, through the rule of law.
Such a concept was also stressed in 19th century Germany through the concept of the Rechtsstaat a state ruled by law. Therefore, external constraints have been advocated by liberals because they prevent self-seeking individuals from abusing individual freedom. Liberals have also advocated internal constraints.
This is done to prevent the development of absolute power and therefore absolute corruption. This leads to the separation of powers doctrine, which seeks to prevent any individual or small group from gaining dictatorial power by controlling the legislative, executive and judicial functions of government.
Such a thing can be seen in the US Presidential system, where the presidency, Congress and Supreme Court are all separated.
Because the judiciary reviews the powers of government itself it is especially important that it enjoys formal independence and political neutrality if it is to protect the individual from the state. Other ways of building in internal checks and balances include: Therefore, liberals support internal constraints because they prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single person or group.On what grounds have socialists criticised the liberal view of equality?
Indicative content (this is not an exhaustive account of relevant points) The liberal view of equality emphasises foundational equality (that people are ‘born’ equal), implying support for both formal equality and equality of opportunity.
Liberals have defended democracy on the grounds that people must have a way of protecting themselves against the government and its actions. This type of democracy is also referred to as protective democracy. Moreover, democracy opens an ability for people to choose.
Liberals have traditionally defended a right to pornography on three main grounds. (By the “right to pornography” here, and in what follows, I mean the negative right of consenting adults not to be prevented from making, publishing, exhibiting, distributing and consuming pornography in private).
On what grounds have modern liberals defended the principle of social welfare? Indicative content (this is not an exhaustive account of relevant points) Modern liberals are sometimes referred to as social liberals, reflecting their support for welfare and redistribution.
This is based on two main arguments. On what grounds have liberals supported democracy? Democracy is rule by the people. Its ‘liberal’ features are reflected in a network of internal and external checks on government in order to protect citizens against the state and guarantee liberty.
On what grounds have liberals defended constitutionalism? Constitutionalism refers to the idea of a limited government achieved through the existence, either of external and usually legal checks on the power of government, notably in the form of a written constitution, and internal checks on.