Freedom and the Vulnerabilities of Virtue

December 1, 2000 at 8:00 am

This essay originally appeared in The American Journal of Jurisprudence 51 (2000), pp. 55-63.

This article draws on “Liberalism’s Discontents” in The Weekly Standard, February 21, 2000, 33-35.

In January of 1838, on an unexceptionable occasion, a twenty-nine-year-old member of the Illinois state legislature and recently licensed lawyer in a fledgling private practice delivered an exceptional address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. The subject for discussion was “The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions.” With awe and gratitude, Abraham Lincoln declared himself and his fellow citizens “legal inheritors” of “fundamental blessings” conferred by the Founding generation’s establishment of a “political edifice of liberty and equal rights.” 1
At the same time, Lincoln warned of the “approach of danger.” 2 The danger to guard against, however, was not a foreign master or invading armies: “If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” 3 Signs of “ill-omen” were all about: “I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice.” 4 Our freedom, argued Lincoln, threatened our virtue, and thereby threatened itself. Undisciplined by virtue, freedom incited the foolish and vicious passions, rendering citizens less capable of maintaining free institutions. To defeat the menace from within, it would be necessary to muster “sober reason” to mold “general intelligence, sound morality, and, in particular, a reverence for the constitution and law.”

Of course, no man or woman of sober reason could mistake our time for the fateful era in which, as a young lawmaker and lawyer, Lincoln delivered his speculations about the dependence of liberty under law on virtue. We enjoy unprecedented prosperity, a lengthy peace, unrivaled military might, and great gains in the extension of civil rights to all citizens. Yet surveying contemporary American culture and politics, commentators on both the right and the left see signs of ill-omen all around. And they too connect the ill-omen to the source of our fundamental blessings, the liberty in which the nation was conceived.

In their introduction to The Betrayal of Liberalism, a collection of essays about the state of contemporary politics and culture, Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball argue that a serious reevaluation of the liberal tradition is in order. 5 From rampant political correctness in the universities to pervasive vulgarity in popular culture, from decline in standards and neglect of discipline in our public schools to shallowness and cynicism on the Supreme Court, from failed social and economic policies at home to confusion about our mission abroad, Kramer and Kimball and their distinguished group of contributors discern increasingly dire disarray. While they do not pretend to have a solution, they are quite confident that the root of the problem lies in our liberalism.

Eminent commentators on the left also conclude that the nation is suffering from its liberalism. For example, in his 1996 book, Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel argues that the liberal public philosophy of the day is responsible both for “the fear that, individually and collectively, we are losing control of the forces that govern our lives . . . [and] the sense that, from family to neighborhood to nation, the moral fabric of community is unraveling around us.” 6 Liberalism has much to answer for, since “these two fears-for the loss of self-government and the erosion of community-together define the anxiety of the age.” 7

By liberalism, Kramer and Kimball, on the one hand, and Sandel, on the other, do not mean only or primarily the attitudes and policies of the political left in the United States. More broadly, liberalism for them refers to the tradition in government and political thought that arose in England in the seventeenth century and which made the protection of individual liberty and not the pursuit of virtue or the attainment of salvation the highest goal of politics. It is the liberalism of Locke, Kant, and Mill. But Hobbes and Hume and Madison are also part of this tradition, as are, in complicated and enriching ways, Burke and Tocqueville. The liberal tradition stands for individual liberty, equality, and toleration. It is characterized by representative government, separation of powers, a free press, a diverse and lively civil society. Toward the liberal tradition as a whole-a tradition in which American democracy and the “political edifice of liberty and equal rights” which constitute it occupy a place of high distinction-the critics’ overall stance is one of acute ambivalence.

Indeed, Kramer, Kimball, and their contributors sometimes write as if present- day liberals have stabbed the liberal tradition in the back and sometimes as if the liberal tradition itself is guilty of defrauding humanity and undermining the preconditions for civilized life. 8 For the most part, however, the editors and contributors admire the moral aspirations to individual freedom and equality before the law that give to the liberal tradition its animating spirit while they criticize contemporary liberalism, as much in sorrow as in anger, for the illiberalism they see practiced in its name.

As for Sandel, though his analysis everywhere presupposes the primacy of individual freedom and human equality, liberalism, he thinks, must be reproached and repudiated not because it is too illiberal but because it is too liberal, because it leaves individuals too free, and because it persuades them to leave government uninvolved in the great moral issues of the day.

Between Kramer, Kimball, and their contributors, on the one hand, and Sandel on the other, the critics elaborate an impressive list of grievances against liberalism.
In education, contemporary liberalism favors a progressive approach that encourages students to learn by doing and to acquire knowledge by discovering it for themselves. But, argues Roger Scruton in The Betrayal of Liberalism, this renders children ridiculously unfree: it gives them a false feeling of independence while making them dependent upon a teacher who must be an ever-present but invisible guide and overseer, carefully manipulating the child’s environment to give the child the illusion that his achievements are all his own; it deprives students of the accumulated wisdom stored up in history and literature; and by jettisoning habit, drills, and memorization, it leaves students undisciplined, bereft of the benefits of routine and rigor. 9

In law, contemporary liberalism has, in the name of freedom and equality, exhibited a tendency to evacuate moral judgments from constitutional questions. In the process, according to Hadley Arkes in The Betrayal of Liberalism and Sandel in Democracy’s Discontent, the Supreme Court has embraced a relativism that not only breaks with the moral principles in which the Constitution is actually grounded but is itself incoherent and a menace to individual freedom. 10 For example, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that upheld a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, the Court declared that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life.” By proclaiming, as a matter of law, that the beginning and value of life is what each individual thinks it to be, the Court appears to believe that it shows respect for women and secures their right to abortion. But in fact such a formulation leaves all rights more vulnerable by suggesting that at the heart of liberty is pure choice, rather than a fixed and determinate understanding of human nature, a notion of what it is about men and women that makes their varied choices, within limits, worthy of respect by the law.

In matters of religion, contemporary liberalism strives to uphold the separation between church and state. But as Jean Elshtain as well as Sandel have argued, it zealously promotes its own brand of monism. 11 While insisting on the worth of, and its openness to, all ways of life, contemporary liberalism exhibits open hostility to claims of faith, demanding that religion, alone among systems of belief and forms of life, confine itself to the private sphere. In so doing, present-day liberalism not only acts intolerantly, but also cuts itself off from a profound source of insight into the human condition and denies a place in public life to a key institution that teaches the self-restraint on which morality in a democracy depends.

In foreign affairs, contemporary liberalism veers between an idealistic devotion to the worldwide promotion of universal principles of justice and a moralism that forbids any dirtying of its hands on behalf of national interests. As Robert Kagan points out in The Betrayal of Liberalism, in the United States both of these contradictory impulses stem from an aversion, motivated by a concern for freedom and equality, to the exercise of power: the humanitarian impulse presses for measures to combat oppressive rule by foreign nations, and the isolationist impulse opposes the exercise of American power which, when not exercised for explicitly humanitarians purposes, is typically seen by the contemporary liberal mind as presumptively oppressive. 12 The notion that power is appropriately exercised on behalf of others’ rights but not on behalf of our interests endangers freedom, not least by severing the connection between our national interest and the vindication beyond our borders of the universal principles to which we proclaim allegiance.

What is the cause of these liberal betrayals of freedom and equality, of the discontents that liberal democracy in America has engendered? The disruptions and depredations produced by capitalism? The arrogance and venality of a pampered elite? The leveling forces unleashed by the democratic spirit? Neither Kramer nor Kimball nor their contributors say clearly. Nor does Sandel. This is unfortunate because a proper assessment of liberal democracy in America today depends upon an accurate understanding of the root causes of contemporary liberalism’s travails.

No doubt many factors are at work. Among the most basic and intractable causes is an inherent instability inscribed in liberalism’s fundamental premise. A chief menace to freedom, as Lincoln saw, is generated by the principle of freedom itself. Especially when left to its own devices, freedom unleashes a dialectic that threatens to become its own undoing.

This dialectic can be briefly sketched. Liberalism begins from the idea that all human beings are by nature free and equal. We are free in the primary sense, proclaims the liberal tradition, in that no man or law can legitimately govern us unless we choose to be so governed. And we are equal in the sense that, as beings endowed with the power to reason, we share this fundamental freedom-or in the language of a very important strand in the liberal tradition, right-to choose the authority under which we shall live. At first, the liberal tradition understands freedom in political terms: to be legitimate, government must be authorized or consented to or made by the governed. Later it requires that custom, tradition, and religion must submit as well to reason’s authority. Eventually, it demands that reason itself be seen as a matter of choice, a human invention that each individual should be free to choose to take or leave as he or she pleases.

The liberal premise of natural freedom and equality seems to generate a sort of self-devouring skepticism that consumes every claim to authority that comes before it, including ultimately its own. Thus does liberalism’s fundamental premise- especially once it untethers itself from and ceases to be tempered by religious belief, traditional morals, custom, and convention-pave the way for the postmodern spirit, both in its grim, fatalistic vision of a world in which freedom is an illusion because our very humanity is socially constructed, and in its utopian fantasy that because our humanity is socially constructed we are free to remake ourselves from the ground up.

The dialectic that I have just sketched can be seen at work in the thinking of three makers of modern liberalism: Hobbes, Kant, and Mill. Hobbes stands at the beginning of the social contract strand in liberalism. Kant represents the culmination of the rationalist and idealist dimension. And Mill exemplifies the progressive and utilitarian side of liberalism. In each case, freedom as the thinker understands it renders vulnerable the virtue on which freedom is understood to depend. As Lincoln warned, in making virtue vulnerable, liberalism heightens its own vulnerability, for freedom requires the exercise of virtue for its conservation.

Thomas Hobbes belongs to the liberal tradition because he grounds his science of politics in the proposition that all men are by nature free and equal. But what is the nature of this freedom? What is the content of this equality?

The freedom that Hobbes says belongs to a man by nature is in a sense infinite; but outside of the constraints of political life, this natural freedom is of a very limited utility. The content of our equality in Hobbes’s science of politics is nothing to boast about either.

By nature, we each have a right to all things. 13 We have a right to all things because no outside authority or external good stands over us. No God issues authoritative commands. No immutable and eternal principles of right and wrong govern our conduct. 14 No qualities in man command unconditional respect. The primacy of individual right reflects the absence of a primary duty or obligation. Right comes first in Hobbes’s system. Duty is at best derivative, and properly speaking is better understood as the interest one has in honoring the principles that secure peace and order for oneself and all others as well.

By itself, in what Hobbes called the state of nature, one’s primary right to all things does not get one very far, because in a world in which we each have right to all things, nothing we have by right is very secure. 15 You can take from me with perfect right what I have previously picked, or gathered, or made. And I can do the same to you. The sense in which we are free coincides with the sense in which we are equal. We are equal inasmuch as we share the right to all things. We are also equal in the sense that we are more or less vulnerable to the vagaries of misfortune and the deliberate injuries inflicted by malice. Our essential situation is thrown into sharp relief in the state of nature, a condition outside of government, for there it becomes clear that the weakest has power enough to snuff out the life of the strongest.

Under these circumstances, it is reasonable for everybody to give up some natural freedom to form a political society. 16 In exchange for the infinite, but inherently precarious freedom of the state of nature, one gets a more limited, but vastly more secure liberty under law. True, Hobbes endows the sovereign with enormous power to secure the peace. But it is of critical importance that Hobbes justifies this enormous transfer of power in terms of individual freedom. According to Hobbes, subjects must obey even the laws they dislike because each subject has authorized all that the sovereign commands. In this way, Hobbes derives duty from right, and makes political society a crucial expression of human freedom.

Notice that Hobbes defines freedom and equality in terms that are entirely secular and nonmoral. On this point he is both emphatic and obscure, managing to leave little doubt about his actual position while giving ideologues of various stripes ample opportunity to make of Hobbes’s thought what they wish. In fact, though, Hobbes says explicitly at the beginning of Leviathan and again at the end that the world is matter in motion and nothing more. 17 In Chapter 6 he declares that good and evil are merely apparent names for appetites and aversions. And in Chapter 11, he proclaims that there is no greatest good or utmost aim, no salvation, no perfection. Freedom and equality must be understood in nonmoral terms because there is no room for morality in Hobbes’s universe.

These perfectly plain pronouncements may seem to be contradicted by what Hobbes says about the laws of nature. After all, are not the laws of nature “immutable and eternal” and hence morally obligatory everywhere and always? Actually, no, at least not in the ordinary sense of moral and not in the ordinary sense of obligation. One of the reasons that the laws of nature are properly speaking neither moral nor obligatory is that though “immutable and eternal” they are properly speaking not really laws, as Hobbes explains: “These dictates of Reason, men use to call by the names of Lawes, but improperly: for they are but Conclusions, or Theoremes concerning what conduceth to the conservation and defence of themselves.” 18

The laws of nature are purely instrumental. They tell self-seeking creatures how to get along in political society, and that getting along in political society is better than going at it alone outside of political society. But buffeted by competition, diffidence, and glory, self-seeking human beings often fail to conduct themselves in the manner that reason prescribes for the furtherance of their self- interest. For this reason, the laws of nature also denote the qualities of mind and character that enable individuals to control their passions, and act in accordance with the rules of prudence reason discovers for enabling self-interested individuals to live together. Hobbes calls these qualities of mind and character, which include justice, equity, gratitude, modesty, and which can be summed in the principle do not do that to others what you would not have others do to you, moral virtues. 19 They are rightly called virtues inasmuch as they require cultivation and their exercise serves a particular function-namely, securing peace.

The Aristotelian tradition, against which Hobbes was rebelling, had room for the understanding of virtue in instrumental terms, or as ordered toward lower ends (despite Hobbes’s view to the contrary). 20 But in the Aristotelian tradition, virtue in the full sense is an excellence of the soul that was in itself a reason for action. For Aristotle, the highest virtues, the virtues of the human soul, were their own reward. For Aquinas, virtue was bound up with duty. For Hobbes it is neither. It is a technique of self-preservation. It is not inherently attractive. It is not the perfection of our nature. Its only claim on us is that it serves our interests by rendering more secure the conditions which make our freedom useful. Virtue so understood is vulnerable because the passions, which speak with immediacy and great persuasiveness, constantly proclaim that justice, equity, gratitude, and the other moral virtues conflict with our interests and arbitrarily limit our freedom.

In the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Moral, Immanuel Kant argued that morality should be understood in terms of reason and freedom. We are capable of freedom because of our reason. Reason is also the source of our dignity. We escape enslavement to the laws of cause and effect, to which we are subject because we are embodied creatures, by grasping the claims upon us of the moral law and acting out of respect for it.

Kant understands freedom in terms of autonomy or giving to oneself the moral law. 21 Everything in nature obeys laws, including human beings. But human beings are capable of becoming lawmakers, of acting in accordance with a law we give to ourselves. The law giving that makes men and women free, according to Kant, is confined to the moral sphere. The moral law is universal, objective, and necessary. We each achieve freedom in the same manner, by giving to ourselves, or recognizing and respecting the authority over us of, the moral law.

Just as submitting to the coercive laws in Hobbes’s theory requires virtue, so, too, virtue is required, according to Kant, to act out of respect for the moral law. Virtue is necessary because dependence on authority is easier than depending on one’s own reason, as Kant argues in “What is Enlightenment?”:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere Aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large proportion of men, even when nature has long emancipated them from alien guidance (naturaliter maiorennes), nevertheless gladly remain immature for life. For the same reasons, it is all too easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians. It is so convenient to be immature! If I have a book to have understanding in place of me, a spiritual adviser to have a conscience for me, a doctor to judge my diet for me, and so on, I need not make any efforts at all. I need not think, so long as I can pay; others will soon enough take the tiresome job over for me. The guardians who have kindly taken upon themselves the work of supervision will soon see to it that by far the largest part of mankind (including the entire fair sex) should consider the step forward to maturity not only as difficult but also as highly dangerous. Having first infatuated their domesticated animals, and carefully prevented the docile creatures from daring to take a single step without the leading-strings to which they are tied, they next show them the danger which threatens them if they try to walk unaided. Now this danger is not in fact so very great, for they would certainly learn to walk eventually after a few falls. But an example of this kind is intimidating, and usually frightens them off from further attempts. 22

And surely Kant is right: courage and resolution are virtues central to that exercise of reason which frees one from dependence on teachers, parents, and government authority.

But the courageous and resolute pursuit of enlightenment also poses a threat to freedom. First, although teachers, parents, experts, and government retain legitimate and perhaps indispensable claims to guide us, Kant’s conception of autonomous reason breeds a disrespect for all authority as authority. Second, reason itself represents a kind of authority. As such, it is obligated to turn its bright light on its own claims to govern. The courage and resoluteness that enable the enlightened Kantian individual to question all authorities also impels him to question the authority of reason. He is no longer cowardly but insolent, no longer lazy but heedless, and his emergence from self-incurred immaturity encourages him to wonder whether obedience to universal, objective, and necessary laws is really freedom after all or rather a new form of enslavement, a new kind of immaturity, a new kind of superstition. Thus does the Kantian quest for enlightenment, unrestrained by the virtue of practical wisdom, or the spirit of delicacy and judgment, threaten to turn moral freedom into willfulness and anarchy.

In his greatest work, John Stuart Mill thought less systematically about freedom than did Hobbes and Kant. Yet On Liberty does advance a dominant understanding of freedom. It is the understanding of freedom as self-development. Preceding the text of On Liberty is a statement from Wilhelm von Humboldt’s Sphere and Duties of Government: “the grand, leading principle, towards which every argument unfolded in these pages directly converges, is the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity.” 23 Two features of the modern world, according to Mill, threatened to squelch self-development. The first, as old as democracy, was tyranny of the majority through government. The second was a tyranny of the majority through society.

To avoid both kinds of tyranny it was necessary, Mill famously asserted, to honor

one very simple principle . . . that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of the number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physic or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. . . . Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. 24

The vexing political problem becomes how to organize a nation of individuals, all of whom are encouraged by the public philosophy of the day to regard themselves, in a vital sense, as sovereign. It is a moral problem as well.

To be sure, Mill believed that the “permanent interests of man as a progressive being” 25 required the cultivation of virtues: self-control, critical rationality, imagination, empathy, and courage. He also envisaged a range of institutional supports for the virtues on which freedom understood as self- development depends. These included energetic parental involvement in children’s education; lively associational life, and to the extent possible in modern democracies, active political engagement. 26 But more was needed to combat the forces of conformism unleashed in modern democracies. It would be necessary, for example, to find ways to encourage eccentric genius and new experiments in living. Mill’s models-Socrates, Jesus, and the emperor Marcus Aurelius-were at the same time models of human excellence. 27 What Mill did not count upon is that eccentricity is a neutral and formal concept, that the encouragement of new experiments in living is more likely than not to undermine respect for those habits, customs, sentiments, and institutions that are the preconditions for success in new experiments in living.

In other words, what Mill did not take account of in On Liberty was the extent to which the permanent interests of man as a progressive being, in-cluding the interest of the individual in self-development, were also menaced by the exaltation of self-development at the expense of discipline and duty.

Contemporary commentators and critics are by no means immune to the tendency within liberalism to enlarge the scope of liberal principles in a way that endangers them. Ironically, Sandel, too, falls into the camp of the radicalizers of liberalism. As a replacement for liberalism, Sandel contemplates a new politics that secures a “higher pluralism” and which is organized to respect the lives of “multiply- encumbered selves” who are “storytelling beings.” 28 Yet what is this “higher pluralism of persons and communities who appreciate and affirm the distinctive goods their different lives express “? 29 Is it not a summons to radicalize liberal neutrality? After all, liberal neutrality is the requirement of equal respect regardless of our differences. But Sandel’s “higher pluralism” demands that we esteem each other precisely for our specific beliefs and practices. Whereas liberal toleration requires that we tolerate many beliefs and practices that we dislike, Sandel’s “higher pluralism” asks us to esteem, absent the guidance of principle, most every belief and practice. However, in refusing to make distinctions, in requiring citizens to affirm distinctive goods without distinctions, this higher pluralism issues in the very relativism that Sandel accused liberalism of secretly sanctioning.

And what are these “multiply-encumbered selves” who learn to appreciate “the sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting obligations that claim us, and to live with the tension to which multiple loyalties give rise,” if not selves that can step back from, evaluate, and, through the stories they construct, rank and reorganize their ends and duties as they choose. 30 As such are they not more like the unencumbered self, the naturally free individual that Sandel finds an inadequate basis for justice, than the encumbered selves whose duties are given and not freely chosen and whom he purports to wish to savefrom liberalism’s non-neutral neutrality? Sandel’s republican alternative to liberalism appears to culminate in a dubious and disguised radicalization of the liberal autonomy he sought to overcome.

Kramer, Kimball and their contributors take a different approach. At the end of the day, their sober counsel is to search for ways to conserve what is best in the liberal tradition, not overthrow it.

In offering this sober counsel, they self-consciously follow in the footsteps of Lionel Trilling, who, as Kramer and Kimball point out in their introduction, had already warned fellow liberals in 1950, in the Preface to The Liberal Imagination, that they were increasingly prone to moral and intellectual complacency. 31 To combat this complacency, Trilling urged liberals to follow the example of Mill. But not the Mill of On Liberty, or rather not the Mill of selected passages from On Liberty, but rather the Mill who a century ago had audaciously advised the liberals of his day to do as he had done himself, to study carefully the thought of the conservative Coleridge, because the challenge Coleridge posed forced liberals to sharpen their understanding of what is true in their own doctrine. Moreover, Mill contended, Coleridge’s understanding of the value of discipline, the claims of moral and intellectual excellence, and the wisdom embodied in tradition contained important truths that the liberal imagination tended to shortchange but desperately needed to grasp. What Mill’s reasoning suggests is that it is a liberal imperative-but one which liberals have always had to struggle to see clearly-that liberalism learn from conservatives about the wisdom embodied in tradition, the better to conserve itself.

Complacency and disdain for different viewpoints are not peculiarly liberal vices. But they are peculiarly harmful to liberalism, because liberalism, a philosophy of freedom, depends for its vitality on the capacity of individuals to think for themselves and to draw on moral and intellectual resources from other traditions. If it is to win the battle against its illiberal tendencies, contemporary liberalism must cease to flatter itself and demonize its opponents. It must put aside its self-righteous certainty of its own virtue and come to grips with its characteristic vices. It must learn again a lesson it once taught clearly, that discipline, tradition, and self-restraint are not antitheses but preconditions of freedom. It may discover that freedom cannot be fully separated from duty, and that a purely mercenary virtue cannot attain even the intermediate and lesser ends it seeks. The reasonable hope is that better knowledge of liberalism’s limits will render freedom under contemporary liberalism’s rule more secure.

Our predicament differs in obvious and profound ways from the coming crisis that already in 1838 filled Lincoln with foreboding. Lincoln saw a great evil loose in the land, a certain lawlessness that was at war with the fundamental beliefs in freedom and equality out of which, he asserted, the nation was conceived. No great evil now struggles in our hearts with, and imperils, our fundamental beliefs. To the contrary, if Kramer and Kimball and their contributors and Sandel are correct, our morals are being corrupted by our fundamental beliefs themselves, from the radicalization of our fundamental beliefs and their extension into domains where they tend to sow confusion and discord. But this great difference in our predicament only increases the contemporary relevance of Lincoln’s admonition to the Young Men’s Lyceum: “the political edifice of liberty and equal rights” was not only built by, but cannot be maintained without, good character, sound judgment, and a reasoned respect for the principles of limited constitutional government. 32

FOOTNOTES:
n1 “Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield Illinois,” in Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1832-1858 (New York: Library of America, 1989), 28.

n2 Ibid.

n3 Ibid., 29.

n4 Ibid., 29.

n5 The Betrayal of Liberalism (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999), 3-18.

n6 Democracy’s Discontent (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), 3.

n7 Ibid.

n8 Roger Scruton, in his essay on the origins of liberalism in Rousseau, and Kimball, in his essay on Mill’s understanding of freedom, come closest to suggesting that the liberal tradition as a whole represents a disastrous wrong turn for the human spirit. See “Rousseau and the Origins of Liberalism,” and “Mill, Stephen, and the Nature of Freedom” in The Betrayal of Liberalism, 19-42 and 43-70.

n9 See “Rousseau and the Origins of Liberalism,” in The Betrayal of Liberalism, 19-42.

n10 See “Liberalism and the Law,” in The Betrayal of Liberalism, 93-118; and Democracy’s Discontent, 20-23; 91-92; and 98-103.

n11 See Elshtain, “The Bright Line: Liberalism and Religion,” in The Betrayal of Liberalism, 139-156; and Sandel, Democracy’s Discontent, 55-71.

n12 See “Liberalism and American Foreign Policy,” in The Betrayal of Liberalism, 157-188.

n13 Leviathan (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994), chapter 13.

n14 This may seem to be contradicted by Hobbes’s assertion that the laws of nature are eternal and immutable. See Leviathan, chapter 15, p. 99. But these are maxims about what conduces to self-preservation.

n15 Ibid.

n16 Leviathan, chapter 14.

n17 Leviathan, Introduction, p. 3, and chapter 46, p. 459.

n18 Leviathan, chapter 15, p. 100.

n19 Leviathan, chapter 15, p. 100.

n20 Leviathan, chapters 6 and 46.

n21 Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. H. J. Paton (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), chapter III, pp. 97-99.

n22 “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?,” in Kant’s Political Writings, Hans Reiss, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 54.

n23 On Liberty, in Essays on Politics and Society, J. M. Robson, ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977).

n24 Ibid., chapter 1, pp. 223-224.

n25 Ibid., chapter 1, p. 224.

n26 Ibid., chapter 5.

n27 Ibid., chapter 2.

n28 Ibid., 116-119; 350-351.

n29 Ibid., 116.

n30 Ibid., 350.

n31 The Betrayal of Liberalism, 3-9.

n32 “Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield Illinois,” 28-36.

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