Liberalism and economic growth: a theoretical exploration

Ferguson, Peter 2016, Liberalism and economic growth: a theoretical exploration, Environmental values, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 593-619, doi: 10.3197/096327116X14703858759170.

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Title Liberalism and economic growth: a theoretical exploration
Author(s) Ferguson, PeterORCID iD for Ferguson, Peter
Journal name Environmental values
Volume number 25
Issue number 5
Start page 593
End page 619
Total pages 27
Publisher White Horse Press
Place of publication Winwick, Eng.
Publication date 2016-10
ISSN 0963-2719
Keyword(s) Liberalism
economic growth
liberal political theory
limits to growth
post-growth economy
Social Sciences
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Studies
Social Sciences - Other Topics
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Summary This article explores how the liberal tradition of political thought has dealt with the prospect of limits to economic growth and how it should approach this issue in the future. Using Andrew Moravcsik’s explanatory liberal theory, it finds that the commitment of governments to growth stems primarily from the aggregation of societal preferences for the social goods that growth produces. The arguments of liberal thinkers who have grappled with the issue of growth are then examined to gain a deeper theoretical understanding of the relationship between liberal democracy and growth. These include John Stuart Mill, for whom a non-growing economy was essential for overcoming the tension between liberty and equality; Ronald Dworkin, who argues that growth is a derivative means to further more fundamental ends; and Marcel Wissenburg, who suggests that it is legitimate for liberal democracies to limit the preference for growth if it risks undermining liberal norms and institutions. Using these theoretical insights, it is argued that environmental degradation, which is partly driven by growth, now threatens the fundamental liberal commitments of many liberals, including some forms of state neutralism, utilitarianism, inalienable individual rights and above all human autonomy. Therefore, liberal democratic states not only can, but must move towards a post-growth economy to secure these objectives into the future.
Language eng
DOI 10.3197/096327116X14703858759170
Field of Research 160599 Policy and Administration not elsewhere classified
160605 Environmental Politics
22 Philosophy And Religious Studies
16 Studies In Human Society
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, White Horse Press
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