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What is a liberal society?

Does a liberal society require anything more from its citizens than respect for the law?

By Oliver Letwin   October 2001

Liberals believe in freedom-but how much, for whom and why? In a profound and important book, John Gray advances what might be called the sceptic-optimist answers to these questions.

Gray doubts the existence of any ultimate truths about how the ideal society should be organised. He doubts the ability of any society to reconcile the conflicting values espoused by individuals and groups within it. He doubts even the existence of Oakeshottian common traditions or practices, capable of binding a society together. He doubts, in short, that there is any firm basis upon which an argument (as opposed to a preference)…

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