The Making of Modern Liberalism is a deep and wide-ranging exploration of the origins and nature of liberalism from the Enlightenment through its triumphs and setbacks in the twentieth century and beyond. The book is the fruit of the more than four decades during which Alan Ryan, one of the world's leading political thinkers, has reflected on the past of the liberal tradition--and worried about its future.
Tracing the emergence of liberalism as articulated by some of its greatest proponents, including Locke, Tocqueville, Mill, Dewey, Russell, Popper, Berlin, and Rawls, the book explores key themes such as the meaning and nature of freedom, individual rights, and tolerance. It also examines how property rights fit within liberal thinking, how work and freedom are connected, and how far liberal freedoms are compatible with a socialized economy.
This is essential reading for anyone interested in political theory or the history of liberalism.
Alan Ryan, the former warden of New College, Oxford, has taught political theory at Oxford and Princeton since 1969. His books include The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell: A Political Life, John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism, and Liberal Anxieties and Liberal Education.
"A magisterial volume. . . . It will appeal to specialists on particular thinkers and topics or to those interested in the trajectory of the liberal tradition inaugurated by Hobbes and Locke."--Jeremy Waldron, New York Review of Books
"By choosing to consider the rich interface between liberalism and philosophy (rather than, say, sociology or party organisation), Ryan has opened up a vast and exciting field for exploration and debate. The reader will find not only discussion of the manifold contributions of the great philosophers (biographical details where appropriate and available) but also insights into the deeper essence of liberalism as it developed through the centuries. Reference to the changing historical context allows liberalism not only to be confronted with other philosophies, from communitarianism to guild socialism, but also to be seen in the broader context of the times that produced it."--Roger Morgan, Times Literary Supplement
"There is a sense . . . of closing argument in The Making of Modern Liberalism, a lifetime of reflection now curated around themes and key thinkers. It is a formidable body of work, testament both to its inquisitive author and the scholarly institutions that have supported long and productive years of scholarship. It is the contribution of someone who takes liberalism to heart--opening his own work for careful scrutiny, and inviting the debate to continue."--Glyn Davis, Australian Book Review
"Alan Ryan is not only among the most significant political philosophers working today, he is also one of the most exciting."--Troy Jollimore, Philosophers' Magazine
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