Talk:List of liberal theorists

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Some top liberals are missing: William Godwin, Thomas Szasz, Ayn Rand. and greeks like Pericles — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:06, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Where is Jean-Jacques Rousseau!?[edit]

While I enjoy the list so far, it is grossly incomplete without Rousseau.

Rousseau was a liberal? - news to me. Though the same applies to quite a number of the people already on this list.

Proposed criteria for including people on this page[edit]

Given that there are people on this page that I have never even heard of, and that it is inevitable that people will keep adding more and more obscure philosophers that others don't know much about, I think it is about time to develop a few criteria by which to judge the thinkers included on this page. I propose:

  • The theorist must have had a demonstrably international impact. People who promoted the cause of liberalism or a particular liberal party in some particular country but are not read elsewhere should not be included.
  • The theorist's work must have been at least translated into English. This is both a crude measure of notability and at the same time a practical consideration, for people reading the English Wikipedia are unlikely to be much helped by references to theorists they cannot read.
  • The theorist must be a theorist, not just a politician or political strategist. This is most easily measured by finding out if the theorist is cited by other theorists. Theorists may be economists, philosophers, lawyers, sociologists, or even poets, but they must have expressed themselves by way of substantial writing.
  • The theorist may have a classical liberal or a more egalitarian concept of liberty — but they must be concerned with the promotion of some form of liberty. Nozick and Rawls and Popper and Hayek all qualify, because they were all deeply concerned with liberty in one form or another.
  • A summary of their contribution, what is liberal about it, and how it fits in with the rest is required.

If people agree on these criteria, then there will be a basis from which to have a discussion when some random comes in and adds their favorite local celebrity populist-socialist-conservative-and-generally-unprincipled pamphleteer to the list. We can then point to these criteria and have a real argument, rather than pointing fingers. What do you say?Sjeng (talk) 14:28, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


These thinkers are arguably not "worthy" [Wayne's World style] to be on the list:

Fukuyama Flach Verhofstadt

I wonder about Fukuyama... In the article it is said: "Politically, Fukuyama is considered neoconservative." I also have the understanding, that he isn't particularly liberal in any meaning of the word. Is there somebody who for some reason wants to keep him on the list? If somebody has information, that Fukuyama is after all a liberal, I'd be interested to hear about it.
I think that Fukuyama is on there because of his theory of the "end of history" with liberal capitalism now the continuing form of government. Slizor 13:05, July 31, 2005 (UTC)
Fukuyama is a funny case. Liberalism has usually taken a fairly down-to-earth, anti-historicist view of history. Mill talked about history as a struggle between Liberty and Authority, but he never implied that there was a great Plato-style Grand Scheme Of Things in which history inevitably moved in one direction or the other. Popper wrote entire books trying to prove how any historicism was bad by definition. Yet, the fall of the soviet union made it nearly inevitable (am I sounding historicist yet?) that somebody was going to say that if history didn't tend toward Platonic depravity or Christian salvation or Marxist communism or any of those other things that it evidently wasn't moving toward, maybe it tended toward liberty. I don't think Fukuyama is right, but I wouldn't want to be caught trying to exclude him from the abstract liberal pantheon of this wikipedia article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:18, 3 December 2006 (UTC).


"It is intended to be suggestive rather than exhaustive." Suggestive in whose opinion? User:MPS

What do you mean> --Gangulf 20:59, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I really have to ask, if Amartya Sen makes the list of "liberal" thinkers, then what possible meaning can the word liberal have? QuartierLatin1968 08:16, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC

SO why should Amartya Sen not to be included? --Gangulf 09:52, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
He's a socialist economist. Okay, he might have a tangential relationship with liberalism -- perhaps he's moved closer to liberals in recent years, I haven't been following his career that closely -- but it seems to me this list includes socialists, right-libertarians, centrists, left-anarchists (witness Chomsky and Zinn), absolutely everybody. Who do we expect to exclude from the category of "liberalism"? QuartierLatin1968 18:57, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I do not agree with the remark on Sen. As far as I know he is not socialist at all. Other socialists are not included and you might read my remark on Chomsky, Stiglitz and Zinn below (I would delete them from the list. People who contribute to the development of the tehory of liberalism should be included. --Gangulf 09:08, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You guys have no idea what you are talking about 1- Sen explicitly denies that he is a socialist or "communitarian" thinker. I asked him about it, personally. His work on allocation of goods and "development is freedom" is extremely influential, and not to socialists. Stiglitz a socialist? Again, not even close. He states that there are goods which the market does not produce because of assmetry of information, and therefore the way to correct this is not by having state run industries, but having a public good to produce the information. The smallest, not the largest possible change. The purpose of such a list is to be as broad as possible, to encompass the entire range of thought which has been incorporated into liberalism - not to promote one specific vision of it. That a good deal of previous work was trashed - without discussion is a bad sign. That the personal party affiliation or vague charges of someone being a "socialist" is being used to compile the list is, quite frankly, illiberal. Today's radicals are often tomorrows respected thinkers, and often thinkers begin adhering to radical groups, simply because they cannot get their ideas heard in any other venue. But the list should be deriven by the work and its results not membership in some clubl. Stirling Newberry 16:40, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Why this reference discrediting left-wing liberals? Right-wing libertarianism is not the sole inheritor of the liberal tradition, as much as they mistakenly love to think they are.

There are only a few libertarians listed and a lot of left wing liberals, like Dahrendorf, like Rawls, like Keynes etc. As a left-wing liberal (in the European sense of the word) I think that is important. But what did Zinn, Chomsky and Stiglitz contribute to liberal theory and why are they liberals? As far as I can guess, most people outside the US would consider them socialists. --Gangulf 18:53, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Chomsky's work on linguistics (remember this) comes up repeatedly in liberal circles particularly through the work of George Lakoff and is part of the response to post-structuralism. Manufacturing consent isn't socialist, it is, however, consumerist. Stirling Newberry 16:51, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Might I humbly suggest that the author add, next to the names of the individuals, the book or books (or papers or speeches or whatever) that led them to be included in this list?

You are welcome to expand the article. --Gangulf 07:04, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The point was you were disputing the authors choice of "listees" I offered a solution, have him list why they were included.

OK, I understand the point. When I have the time I will start adding remarks. In the meantime, everybody is welcome to add this kund of info. --Gangulf 21:05, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Stirling Newberry re-added Chomsky, Stiglitz and Wells without explaining why they should be added and without a reaction on the question asked before (12 october). I still doubt they should be included, So I would like to hear an argument to add them. I do not like the word vandalism in this context. I created the list and am open for additions. The list is pluriform with philosophers I wouldn't consider liberals (like Nozick), but others would argue why they should be added. I didn't find the argument on Chomsky, Stiglitz and Wells, so I am waiting for that. BTW I restored the list to a version in which Chomsky, Stiglitz are included, but with additions made on countries and years by some other people. Gangulf 21:34, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I do believe it would be historically appropriate--rather than simply an act of self-congratulatory sensitivity--to include some women who have contributed significantly to liberal thought. Martha Nussbaum, anyone? And then there's a certain Objectivist I'm sure the libertarians and other radical capitalists think is sorely lacking from this list . . .

By all means add Ayn Rand. Though I would argue objectivism violates the separation of church and state. Stirling Newberry 16:51, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I what way is wikipedia defining liberalism for this list? Liberalism is not the same thing as "left-wing". I see that Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal are both on the list, and that there has been some dispute over Noam Chomsky. Should we be letting people self-define or should we be trying to make some sort of sense out of this mess? Chomsky has claimed to be the inheritor of classical liberalism, but does that actually make him a liberal (right wing libertarians claim the same)? So many different modern groups claim title to classical liberalism that self-definition on this type of list may be problematic; its sort of like a list of Christians, hopelessly long and ambiguous. millerc 22:58, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Liberalism is certainly not the same thing as left wing, but it is not the same thing as "anti-socialist, anti-welfare economics, anti-tax, anti-Democratic Party USA" either. Liberalism is a broad river in thinking - if Keynes can read, and praise The Road to Serfdom - then there is certainly room for a wide spectrum of reading. Stirling Newberry 19:18, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Please visit the page Liberalism for a discussion on liberalism. On the text there seems to be a broad consensus. Gangulf 19:12, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't see a consensus at all. It appears that defining a liberal has turned into a political game. Certainly a lot of politicians have claimed to be liberal that weren't for freedom at all. Maybe we should limit the list of liberal theorists to those who lived prior to the 20th century? --MeUser42 (talk) 11:45, 14 November 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

We shoud merge this page in Liberal bibliography Stirling Newberry 19:18, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I would not disagree. Lets name the new page Contributions to liberal theory. --Gangulf 18:07, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
There are too many right-wing libertarians and not enough left-wing people. Remember, Wikipedia is not "THE TRUTH AS REPORTED BY LIBERTARIANS"--right-wingers are NOT the only recipient of the liberal tradition, though they love to think that they are. By all means, add Keynes and Chomsky. They count. (talk) 17:50, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Brentano, Russel and Durkheim[edit]

The label Kathedersozialist in the article on Brentano doesn't make him a socialist. Please read the German Wikipedia article on Kathedersozialismus. So I re-added Brentano. I am not convinced that Russell wasn't a liberal, het was an active member of the Liberal Party. I re-added Russel. On Durkheim: I do not know enough about him, so i wait further discussion. Electionworld 11:10, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I don't see how a membership in any organisation would make sombody a "contributor to liberal theory", if he is advocating socialism. See : "Politically, Russell envisioned a kind of benevolent, democratic socialism, not unlike the conception promoted by the Fabian Society." This is what is important from the point of view of whether he was contributing to socialism or liberalism, not what kind of membership card he had in his pocket. The name of this article is "Contributions to liberal theory", not "Celebrity members of liberal parties". Are you able to distinguish "liberal theory" from a "liberal party"? If not, you should concentrate to write to articles about liberal parties, and leave the articles about liberal theory untouched. I can tell you, that "liberal theory" is not something what is written by a member of a self-identified liberal party. Most of the most important liberal theorists were not members in any party.
I agree that party membership is not identical with being a liberal theorist, but as far as I learned about Russell his ideas developed over the years from being a free trade liberal to being a socialist. His first works, especially on german social democracy were clearly of a liberal identity. So therefore i maintain that he contibuted to liberal theory. Electionworld 15:17, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If, on the other hand, you have better information about the the thoughts of Russell than the author or the article on Russell, please first correct that article about Russell, the add him to the contributors of liberal theory.
See : "Durkheim, a Jew and socialist..." -I don't know much about Durkheim, either, but wikipedia can't claim in one article that he was a socialist and in another that he was a liberal - unless you think these are the same think, as it seems.
I didn't add Durkheim. Electionworld 15:17, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I would also recommend that you would read again the "The Social Contract" of Rousseau and think over, whether this is the correct place for him. He was a democrat, but a totalitarian one. And as for Burke, he may have been liberal in his youth, but he didn't contribute much for liberalism then, and later he became known as the father of conservatism.
One can dispute Rousseaus liberalism, but he was listed not because he himself was a liberal, but his social contract theory contributed to liberal theory. Burke is by some (not by me) considered to be also contributing to liberal theory. It is not necesary to have a general consensus on somebody to be listed in this list. Electionworld 15:17, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hobbes supported an authoritarian society. Why isn't rather Hugo Grotius listed here? Hobbes didn't contribute anything to liberalism which Grotius hadn't already said, and Groyius at least supported free trade and at least some kind of right for the individuals to defend themselves, if not else.
Please feel free to add Hugo de Groot. Electionworld 15:17, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

One can dispute Rousseaus liberalism, but he was listed not because he himself was a liberal, but his social contract theory contributed to liberal theory.

How? Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke and Pufendorf had presented their social contract theories before Rousseau, and Rousseau didn't contribute anything liberal in his theory, which hadn't been said before. On the contrary, socialist, fascists, national socialists and even anarchists have been able to base their illiberal demands on Rousseau's theory.

Burke is by some (not by me) considered to be also contributing to liberal theory.

Did some of them add him to this list? And the only time he is claimed to be liberal in the wikipedia article about him is in the quotation from Marx. .
Anyway, even if Rousseau and Burke would have indeed contributed something small for liberalism, listing them gives wrong picture on liberalism, because they are better known of totally different kind of contributions.

It is not necesary to have a general consensus on somebody to be listed in this list.

So if somebody decides to add Marx, Rosenberg or Pinochet (like in the Swedish article about liberalism), that is OK? There must be some way they have influenced liberalism. If nothing else, at least they have caused some kind of liberal reactions against them and thus indirectly developed liberalism.

United Kingdom[edit]

The country of origin of some theorists was changed from England into the United Kingdom. I do not think I can agree, since at that time the UK didn't exist. I plan to revert that in some daysElectionworld 06:39, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Whatever, change them back if you want. I thought the point was to mark a present country. Otherwise it is also questionable, whether "Germany" was a country at the time of certain thinkers.

Between liberalism and libertarianism[edit]

There was a good reason why I removed this sublist, and I tried to explain it in the Edit summary, but it seems for vain. In the introduction of "American liberal theory" it is written: "Theorists who also had influence on liberalism outside the United States, like Rawls, Rothband, Dworkin, Rorty, Ackerman, Fukuyama and Nozick are listed above. Modern Classical liberal theorists are listed below."

I assume this describes the original situation. Fukuyama and Nozick have been listed above the sublist "American liberal theory", that means in the sublist "Mill and further, the development of (international) liberalism". I think their move to a separate list should have been explained at the first place, not their restaration back to the orginal list. But I don't see such explanations. In the case they are moved in the bottom, the introduction of "American liberal theory" should be modified accordingly.

If they are listed in "Mill and further, the development of (international) liberalism", I think that Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and James Buchanan should be listed there, too. Especially as at least Mises and Friedman have described themselves "liberals", not "libertarians". I think I have also seen an article where Buchanan confessed that he supported "classical liberalism". Only Rothbards hasn't had influence on liberalism outside the United States, that's why I moved him to "American liberal theory". Though as an anarchist, maybe he shouldn't be even there.

And IF in the end somebody is going to restore "Between liberalism and libertarianism", please don't just restore an earlier version. There has been other changes than regrouping the lists, as well. I used hours to find out some of the literature and the years when they were published. Please don't wipe that work away just like that, without giving good reasons.

Now I'm going to restore them back, and I wish to see here some arguments, if they are moved back again.

I restored the separate section, but I used the modified texts (I didn't use the revert function). So I do not know. I do see a difference between mainstream liberalism and the -in between- form. Most European liberals wouldn't consider Milton Friedman as being a liberal (because of his Chile work, see Milton Friedman) and would have doubts on some of the other so-called classical liberals. If we want to find consensus, I would like to suggest to delete Friedman from the list (despite his own labeling als liberal) and to delete Rothbard. Electionworld 06:40, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
on what grounds is it suggested that rothbard be deleted? seems to me, from reading this page and Liberalism, that this entire pyramid is built on shifting and sloppy definitions, with perhaps the biggest fault in not addressing the duplicity of many who now claim the mantle of liberalism. i see sneaky pete maneuvering on this very page. rothbard deleted from an article about liberal theory? what am i missing? let's not forget that the root of liberalism is "free". that counts for nothing now? the criticism of libertarian inclusion in classical liberalism is that they want too much liberty? c'mon. this point can be addressed without knocking out some of the purest contributors to liberal theory. i'm all for not treating rothbard as a god, but let's not go the same distance in the other direction. SaltyPig 08:51, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
My suggestion to delete Rothbard has only to do with the earlier remark: Rothbards hasn't had influence on liberalism outside the United States. But may he belongs in the American liberal theorists. Electionworld 09:23, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
i'd very much like to see the criteria that support the claim of rothbard not having influence outside the US. but whatever -- this entire area seems more of an exercise for the initiated than a true attempt to share useful knowledge. SaltyPig 09:30, 2005 Apr 25 (UTC)

Regarding Milton Friedman, see for instance this interview, in which he states, that people such as himself and Hayek are the true liberals rather than those who in America call themselves "liberals".

Milton Friedman has also developed negative income tax and school vouchers, so he could be argued to be on the Left side of Hayek, who is accepted to the sublist "Mill and further, the development of (international) liberalism". Many European liberal parties support ideas developed by Friedman, although he isn't mentioned as the father of these ideas.

In it is written, that Friedman didn't have a personal contact with Pinochet. The accusations that he would have supported dictature regime are fabricated and ill-grounded. It is true, that he visited Chile and South Africa, but he has visited also India, China and Mexico, and he is still not criticized for supporting the political or economical systems in these countries? Why is that?

As for Rothbard, there are some small radical groups in Europe, with perhaps tens of members, who support the ideas of his, but he isn't known in the mainstream European liberal movement. As far as I know, he has even less support in Africa, Australia and Asia. Therefore I moved him into the "American liberal theory". However, I didn't suggest deleting him, but I just pointed my suspicion about listing him, because he was an anarcho-capitalist, or market anarchist, not a liberal. Anarchism and liberalism are two different ideologies, as most people admit. He can be libertarian, as "libertarian" is a term which in America is used both for anarcho-capitalists and classical liberals, as the term "liberal" has become to mean something else than elsewhere. For the history of the term "libertarian", see

But the difference between anarchists and liberals is not, that anarchists would support "too much" liberty, but in the view what is needed to maximize liberty. Liberals (starting from Locke) have seen anarchy as a threat to liberty, because it leads to despotism of stronger individuals against weaker individuals. Therefore the classical solution which the liberals have offered is the social contract, which leads to a limited government. Anarchists however claim, that the maximal liberty can be achieved without government. I'm not going to argue about who is right about it, I'm just pointing out, that this is the difference between anarchists and liberals. An anarchist isn't therefore some kind of a "superliberal". If SaltyPig considers, that anarchism advocates more liberty than liberalism, why not then list Rothbard in a list of anarchists? But the anarchists should be listed in the list of anarchists, not liberals.


There is a claim that the group of philosophers represented reveal an international liberal tradition, which is laughable. The number of Indian subcontintental, Middle Eastern, East Asian, African, and Latin American philosophers, political scientists and moralists is completely and utterly dwarfed by the number of Euro-Americans. This is not, for the skeptical, a reflection of any real dearth of liberal (or otherwise) thinkers in the rest of the world, but rather evidence of a complete lack of knowledge on the part of the collective of writers of this article. I cannot write for Wikipedia right now (I used to, but right now I'm off on a trip), but I wanted to alert anyone coming to this page that claims of the international character of the list presented are laughable at best, and anyone wishing to improve this article could either excise that 'international' claim or start earnestly researching major thinkers of liberal stances who came well before Descartes or were contemporary to earlymodern and modern European philosophers but unfortunately happened to be doing their thing outside of the Euro-American miliue. Remember all those Arabian philosophers, mostly quite liberal, who transmitted Aristotle and co. to Europe? Ever bothered finding out about the droves of Indian philosophers who, consistently from BCE to the time of the British Raj, upheld what might be considered liberal ideals such as anti-casteism and equality of sexes, even animal rights? This page has been found wanting. -- 15:30, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

If the anonymous user had spent as much time improving the article as complaining (or laughing) about it, we would all be better off. Please be more positive and help us out. --Blainster 00:05, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Liberalism as ideology, is born in Europe, and first spread in America. It has just relatively recently spread outside Europe and America, and we have listed those liberal theorists outside these continents which we are aware of, some of them haven't perhaps even been that influential to the liberal theory, but we have listed them because we have tried to make the list geographically representative. (Likewise you would probably find more Chinese Confusian or Taoist philosophers than European ones.) If you are aware of some non-European or non-American liberal theorists, which aren't already listed, please go ahead, and add them. We have done our best.-- 14:46, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Could the introduction of this article be written without mentioning the names? Now those names mentioned in the introduction are actually listed three times in this article, which is unnecessary. 14:40, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I think that listing Chomsky in "Contributions to liberal theory" is a bit too much. Of course there has been some influences between different thinkers and traditions of thought, but if Chomsky is listed as a "liberal", then Karl Marx should be listed, as well. -- 10:56, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Chomsky is certainly not liberal. But there are others too. Probably there should be another page called "Contributions to 'U.S. new liberalism'", since that is very different from liberalism. Chomsky, Vidal, Stiglitz and others might fit in there. 14:07, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

"theorum [sic]"[edit]

Someone's made this page uneditable via a spam link. If anyone knows how to get around this, could they please fix this truly bizarre misspelling, which occurs in this article? Michael Hardy 02:30, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

It looks like you fixed it already. No evidence of a problem now. --Blainster 19:26, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Brion Vibber was able to identify the URL that caused the problem. I deleted it. Michael Hardy 02:45, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

International/American Liberalism?[edit]

I don't quite understand the differences between American Liberalism and Modern (new, social, welfare) Liberalism. There seems to be some blind acceptance of Europeans using "liberalism" in the classical sense, which isn't accurate. Both of the forms of liberalism exist in Europe with a number of political parties supporting modern liberalism. It's also incorrect to think that modern liberalism started in the US. Slizor 15:59, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Frédéric Bastiat[edit]

Bastiat is neither a liberal, nor did he contribute anything to liberal theory. He is best described as a radical conservative or perhaps an early libertarian.


I feel that Aristotle should be added to the beginning of this list. If you read his "Politics", you will see that in the end he adovacted the form of government known as "Polity," or a democracy headed by elected representatives. This seems liberal enough to me.

What do other people think? --User:Zaorish

Seconded! Politics has been a source of inspiration for liberal/would-have-been-liberal-if-they-were-born-in-the-right-era thinkers throughout the ages. --(Mingus ah um 19:44, 19 July 2006 (UTC))

I added what I know. Cleanup and criticism are welcome, but please don't delete the entire thing without putting your argument here first. --Zaorish 19:12, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Why is Aristotle among the list of liberal thinkers? Liberalism is a product of modernity, mainly egalitarianism, which Aristotle didn't support. Hence, an aristocracy, according to him, is the best or ideal regime.RetroLady64 (talk) 22:09, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
According to the introduction, liberalism is a product of the enlightenment. So, by definition we need to remove Aristotle and any other ancient on the list. Just because their was overlap (i.e. support for private property) doesn't mean someone was a liberal thinker. RetroLady64 (talk) 15:30, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Ayn Rand[edit]

Ayn Rand (Russia/Usa, 1905-1983), was a Russian-born American libertarian and philosopher best known for developing Objectivism. Widely regarded by serious philosophers and writers as a joke, she has a cult following for her books, particularly on the internet.

  • Some literature:
    • The Fountainhead
    • Atlas Shrugged
    • We the Living
    • Anthem

We have had a mini-edit-war going on over the inclusion/exclusion of Ayn Rand, so let's talk it out. By what reasoning are folks contesting or supporting her inclusion? DickClarkMises 20:17, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I removed the Ayn Rand entry the first time, because she is generally regarded as a libertarian (as the entry states), rather than a contributor to liberal theory. When it was restored, another editor added disparaging comments about her. Because WP does not condone personal attacks, I felt it was better to remove the entry again, rather than have it remain as "flame bait". As you suggested, the term "liberal" has been used in widely varying ways, and this variance in use and understanding is probably the root of the problem here. --Blainster 23:55, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I would note that Hayek, Nozick, and (obviously) Rothbard are also often referred to as libertarians, as are at least several others on the list. Worth noting too is that Rand herself hated the term "libertarian" and refused to apply it to herself, although that isn't really that important for our purposes here. Now, I personally don't much care for Rand, but there are some serious scholars who have argued the merits of her contributions to liberal theory, including Roderick Long here. I would also note that the "Liberalism" infobox lists libertarianism as a school of liberalism. DickClarkMises 19:41, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me that the broader the list becomes, the less useful it is. Perhaps the others you mentioned should be removed as well. But if other editors agree with your assessment of the scope of liberal theory, I will not further contest the addition. I hope you are committed to defending it from the inevitable vandal attacks. --Blainster 09:34, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
As the original liberalism of Adam Smith & co was much like libertarianism of today, IMHO practically every libertarian thinker contributes to the "liberal theory". It is questionable however, if Ayn Rand was primarily a liberal theorist or rather an advocate. She did of course start her own branch of modern liberal thinking (objectivism) but most of her works were either inspiring fiction or more like philosophical pondering on free market rather than actual scientific theories or works of political philosophy. Since the list is already so long, I guess that more "academic" theorists of the libertarian branch of liberalism such as Rothbard, Hayek and Mises are enough. Anyways, funny that Joe Stiglitz made it to the list. Although he isn't easily classified, some of his thoughts are rather keynesian and he doesn't seem to be concerned on social liberties that much. JJohannes (talk) 19:57, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Rand has no place on this list. It seems pretty obvious that her inclusion here is misplaced. She was, at best, a popularizer of some rather wacky notions and should not be included in a list of serious thinkers. Calicocat (talk) 00:34, 1 January 2011 (UTC)


Hm... Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572): religious tolerance, separation of church from state, equality of all against the law, Wawrzyniec Grzymała Goślicki (1530-1607) whose works were widely read (i.e by Thomas Jefferson), and were so radical that they were at the time banned in England: that monarch can only rule with consent of the nation, and the law is above the rulers. Polish brethren: religious tolerance, and separation of the state and church (they were read by almost everyone in Europe, i.e Locke had a lot of their works). What do you think? Szopen 08:33, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

For addition, Jürgen Habermas and Seyla Benhabib —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:06, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

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BetacommandBot (talk) 21:44, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Absurdly liberal scope of what liberalism means.[edit]

This list is a joke. It includes everything from classical liberals (Locke) to proponents of natural order (Rothbard) to democratic socialism (Rawls, Schlesinger Jr.) to totalitarians and supporters total war (Lincoln). Almost everyone on this list would vehemently disagree with a good number of the others on this list, and would classify some of them as evil. Whatever liberalism means, it cannot be an all-encompassing term, for then it would mean nothing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. The fact that this list includes Edmund Burke, one of the founders of modern conservatism, proves it is far too broad. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:34, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree as well, and would challenge inclusion of Rand and Milton Friedman as well. These kinds of lists are always fraught with people who insist on pushing their point of view, but there are really a few square pegs jammed into round holes in this one and it should be pruned and weeded. Calicocat (talk) 00:39, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

There is a very easy explanation for the broad scope as well as all of the debate here in the article about who should be included and who shouldn't: Almost all political thinkers of the 20th century outside the Marxist and presumably Fascist tradition were deeply influenced by liberalism, particularly after the Second World War, there was simply no other ideology to rival it. If we take 19th century liberalism as the starting point, we are all liberals today. It is quite hard to find a mainstream political party in any European country, or the US for that matter, that is not heir to, has adopted or developed tons of 19th century liberalisms core tenets, nor are there many important political thinkers who haven't done the same. This whole discussion, including the list, is just a silly, vain exercise in trying to identify a tradition that has long ceased being coherent in any sense. Almost all political thought nowadays is in some way liberal thought. This conflict will only be resolved when the whole world is on your list. In any case, this discussion page has been a source of endless amusement to me, I have never before seen people struggle in such an amusing manner with Nietzsche's dictum that "only that which has no history can be defined". Keep it up! (talk) 15:09, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Anti-aristocracy is liberal?[edit]

Three issues: 1) Anti-aristocracy includes forms of communism, socialism and other populist governments. Several promoted self determination, the individual and nation. I am not saying they delivered. Ayn Rand and Eric Hoffer qualify. They are signiciant contributors. Karl Marx advocated worker as anindividual, self determination and nation. Your list must grow tremendously to include all theory that is "anti-aristocracy"

2) The contrast with "family and state" sounds like an orientation to the United States politics rather than global/international. Liberalism means something else in Europe too. Are you alluding to USA political parties? If so, the document has gross errors. Absolutely gross.

3) Economists talk about government policy, whether decided on by aristocracy, republic or democracy. The role of government Galbriath and Friedman theorize could be applicable to aristocracy or any other form of government.

In the USA, the terms, liberal and conservative are not defined by a position on aristocracy any longer. Although, both USA parties accuse each other of aristocartic behaviors. The terms relate to other things more ambiguous. USA political parties promote the individual, self determination, and a republic, each in its own peculiar way.

Where is David Hume ?[edit]

He is in the column on the right, but not in the article. Where is he ? He was much more important than many thinkers seen on this list. Besides, Hayek has been a famous Hume reader. -- (talk) 13:15, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

reorganizing the page[edit]

Instead of brief summaries, most of which need a immense amount of work, we should just create a bullet point list of liberal thinkers with links to their individual articles.RetroLady64 (talk) 22:14, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Edmund Burke and other problems[edit]

I'm proposing that we remove Edmund Burke from the list of liberal theorists. Certainly there exists overlap between Burke and Locke, especially in matters of rights and liberty but Burke seems to reject enlightenment rationalism because he found it the basis of political experimentation. I believe the problem with including Burke (and Aristotle too) reflects the general confusion of what constitutes a liberal theorist. Before we can truly resolve the matter of who to include and who to exclude, we need to grapple with the more pressing question of what qualifies a thinker as "liberal." Furthermore, I would also suggest removing Chomsky from the list. His work as a theorist of any sort is primarily in linguistics not politics. There he is primarily a public intellectual, not theorist. RetroLady64 (talk) 19:31, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

We need to avoid the pitfall of deciding on our own who is or isn't a liberal theorist. Out job, as Wikipedia editors, is to verifiably summarize reliable sources using the neutral point of view. If reliable sources say Burke or Chomsky are liberal theorists (or the equivalent) then they should be on the list. If there are not sources which say so then they shouldn't be on the list.
Unfortunately, this list is lacking sources which make the those necessary characterizations. I think we should extend your proposal to all entries which do not have a spefici source describing them as liberal theorists.   Will Beback  talk  19:16, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

For Burke in particular, I see in Google Books a number of sources which mention "Burke" and "liberalism" together. A chapter is titled "THE EMPIRICAL BASIS OF EDMUND BURKE'S CLASSICAL ECONOMIC LIBERALISM".[1] Another book says "Burke's liberalism may seem moderate in quantity, but it had the merit of consistency."[2] And so on.[3]
As for Chomsky, Google books shows that many sources refer to his political theories. "Quite often, academics insist upon distinguishing Chomsky the linguist from Chomsky the political thinker for two sets of reasons... "[4] "His analysis of the media is crucial to his political theory because it explains the way in which elites seek to divert attention away from an acknowledgement of the power they wield."[5] "To many people any connections between Chomsky's political ideas and actions and his linguistic theories is absent or invisible (Salkie 1990)."[6] "What is at stake are the inferences that one can draw from linguistic to political theories. Chomsky is well known not only for his work in linguistics and philosophy but also for his criticisms of American government policy,..."[7] Based on those sources it appears he is in fact known as a political theorist.   Will Beback  talk  19:32, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Burke was considered a liberal theorist and rejected by English conservatives. (See Eccleshall, Robert. English Conservatism since the Restoration (1990).) Chomsky has written influential academic papers and books on political issues. TFD (talk) 18:36, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Burke definitely belongs on the list. He argued most presuavsively to extending freedom to more people and against the rigid Statism of the time. I don't know what you mean by 'Enlighten Rationalism', but the goal is to get to 'more freedom'. --MeUser42 (talk) 11:45, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

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