The Principles of a Liberal Social Order

“The Principles of a Liberal Social Order.” Il Politico 31, no. 4 (December 1966): 601–618.


“It should be specially emphasized that the two political philosophies which both describe themselves as “liberalism” and lead in a few respects to similar conclusions, rest on altogether different philosophical foundations. The first is based on an evolutionary interpretation of all phenomena of culture and mind and on an insight into the limits of the powers of human reason. The seconds rests on what I have called the ‘constructivist’ rationalism, a conception which leads to the treatments of all cultural phenomena as the product of deliberate design, and on the belief that it is both possible and desirable to reconstruct all grown institutions in accordance with a preconceived plan. The first kind is consequently reverent of tradition and recognizes that all knowledge and all civilization rests on tradition, while the second type is contemptuous of tradition because it regards an independently existing reason as capable of designing civilization…The first is also essentially a modest creed, relying on abstraction as the only available means to extend the limited powers of reason, while the second refuses to acknowledge any such limits and believes that reason alone can prove the desirability of particular concrete arrangements.”

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