Skip to:Bottom
Cover image for The idea of a liberal theory : a critique and reconstruction
The idea of a liberal theory : a critique and reconstruction
Johnston, David, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1994.
Physical Description:
x, 204 p. ; 23 cm.
Subject Term:


Material Type
Item Barcode
Call Number
Shelf Location
Item Holds
Book BILKUTUP0170315 JC571 .J57 1994 Central Campus Library

On Order



Liberalism, the founding philosophy of many constitutional democracies, has been criticized in recent years from both the left and the right for placing too much faith in individual rights and distributive justice. In this book, David Johnston argues for a reinterpretation of liberal principles he contends will restore liberalism to a position of intellectual leadership from which it can guide political and social reforms. He begins by surveying the three major contemporary schools of liberal political thought--rights-based, perfectionist, and political liberalism--and, by weeding out their weaknesses, sketches a new approach he calls humanist liberalism.

The core of Johnston's humanist liberalism is the claim that the purpose of political and social arrangements should be to empower individuals to be effective agents. Drawing on and modifying the theories of John Rawls, Michael Walzer, Ronald Dworkin, Joseph Raz, Amartya Sen, and others, Johnston explains how this purpose can be realized in a world in which human beings hold fundamentally different conceptions of the ends of life. His humanist liberalism responds constructively to feminist, neo-Marxist, and other criticisms while remaining faithful to the core values of the liberal tradition.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
The Idea of a Liberal Theoryp. 2
Introductionp. 3
Chapter 1 Political Theory and Liberal Valuesp. 11
Chapter 2 Rights-Based Liberalismp. 40
Chapter 3 Perfectionist Liberalismp. 68
Chapter 4 Political Liberalismp. 100
Chapter 5 Humanist Liberalismp. 137
Conclusionp. 186
Referencesp. 193
Indexp. 201
Go to:Top of Page