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221_arts_books_derbyshirePolitical philosophers may find Edmund Fawcett’s assertion that “liberty is the wrong place to begin” when telling the story of liberalism rather startling. They tend to be in the business of deriving conclusions about the legitimate activity of the state from a set of assumptions about liberty, consent and individual rights. In Fawcett’s account, by contrast, liberalism is not a settled doctrine arrived at through rational argument but a “political practice” with a history. As for liberty, it’s certainly something liberals believe in, Fawcett writes, but then so too do “most…

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