Lectures on Classical Liberalism
A Series of Lectures with Professor Thomas Patrick Burke, D.Phi., D.Th.
Freedom and the Free Society
True, original or "classical" liberalism can be summed up as the philosophy of the free society with free markets. Our aim in these lectures is to see what this means and what reasons support or oppose it. It can be supported in the first instance by many different reasons. But fundamentally only two kinds of argument can be made for or against any action. One is based on ethics or moral principle, namely whether the action is right or wrong by its nature. The other is based on the action's consequences, for example whether it brings benefit or harm. This is also true of classical liberalism.
Classical liberalism is an idea that has been obtusely misunderstood, even by some of its own defenders. It has been condemned as immoral by some who otherwise showed little concern for morals. But I hope to show you that the grounds that support it are so powerful, so deeply rooted in reason and in human nature in the best sense of that term, that in the long view of history some version of it must be given a good chance ultimately to prevail despite all the lamentable odds against it. On the other hand, however, all human philosophies have problems, and we must examine some of those that classical liberalism faces.