Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952613 | Print ISBN: 9781412905794 | Online ISBN: 9781412952613 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
David C. Johnston
Liberalism is the name for a diverse family of views about government and society that emerged in Europe following the Protestant Reformation and that now dominates political discourse throughout much of the world. The branches of this family are loosely united by shared commitments to toleration of a range of views about the meaning and ends of life, to the ideas of limited government and the rule of law, to the institution of private property as a means of limiting the reach of governmental authority, and perhaps above all, to the protection of personal liberty by whatever means are most likely to be efficacious. These branches have often been divided by feuds over just how far toleration should extend and whether governments should seek to bring about a more robust form of equality than that entailed by equality under law as well as by tensions over the idea of free ...