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Word Count: 1,237
Liberalism is a broad church of ideology that has provided the staple set of principles that form modern political thought Since its inception as one of the core developments of the enlightenment liberalism has evolved into a vast all spanning and often contradictory forest of political thought Though some forms of liberalism seem poles apart they all for the most part share the same underlying principles those being ideas of tolerance reason justice and above all the rights and freedoms of the individual Though many of the principles of liberalism simply became so through association and as a result are not always expressed by other strands of the ethos the idea of the individual and their rights is the cornerstone and bed rock of all sects and divisions and has been so for the last two hundred years The end is universal one what varies so spectacularly are the means Perhaps many of the contradictions of liberalism stem from the fact that is formed from seemingly opposite ideals The idea of natural rights which would now be called human rights were thought to be self evident by Thomas Jefferson and essential to any liberal society They were called natural rights because they were believed to be just that inalienable and undeniable and given to all at birth Jefferson and the early liberals defined them as Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness British philosopher Locke defined them slightly differently as being Life Liberty and Property though perhaps the latter simply reflects his interpretation of happiness The idea of natural rights was challenged by the contemporary and markedly contradictory notion of Utilitarianism Utilitarianism was based on ideas of human nature and rejected ideas of natural rights Utilitarian philosophers believed that individuals are motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain They believed that humans rationally decided their course of action based on this principle This was expanded to the idea of general
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