The tradition of political liberalism has a long and complicated history, filled with twists, turns, critiques and responses that have filled books, essays and lectures for several centuries now. Questions of the importance and limitations of individual rights and how to balance different interests have produced no shortage of theoretical conflict as different figures have attempted to make sense of the importance and limits of individuals and their rights.
Diving right into this debate is Matt McManus, returning again to the New Books Network to discuss his recent book A Critical Legal Examination of Liberalism and Liberal Rights (Palgrave, 2020). Going back as far as Burke, Hobbes, Kant and Locke, and then through critiques of liberalism from both radically progressive and reactionary orientations, the book traces the various ideas of liberalism up to the present in figures such as Habermas, Rawls and MacIntyre. It also posits its own understanding of liberalism, which emphasizes every individual's right to self-authorship as a central pillar for developing the liberal project. Crossing the fields of history, philosophy, political theory and law, the book offers a number of interventions across an array of fields, and will be of immense use to those seeking to understand some of the most pressing concerns of our time.
Matt McManus is a professor of politics at Whitman College. He is the author of a number of books, including The Rise of Postmodern Conservatism, and is also one of the coauthors of Myth and Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson, both of which we discussed in previous episodes of this podcast.