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What’s the Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives? The Moral Dimension

Posted: September 7, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: About the Caucuses
  By Dennis J. Goldford, Harkin Institute Flansburg Fellow Professor of Political Science, Drake University Liberalism and conservatism, I said in my last post, have both a moral and an economic dimension. There is thus a moral liberalism and a moral conservatism, and an economic liberalism and an economic conservatism. Explaining the moral dimension of liberalism and conservatism is my task in this post, and their economic dimension in the next. Unfortunately, I have to note at the outset that explaining the distinctions between the moral and economic dimensions of liberalism and conservatism is complicated in the following matter. While moral liberalism and moral conservatism exist within two distinct philosophical worldviews, economic liberalism and economic conservatism exist within only one of those worldviews. That is, the argument between moral liberalism and moral conservatism is an argument between two different philosophical worldviews, but, as we will see in the next post, the argument between economic liberalism and economic conservatism is an argument wholly within one of those worldviews—liberalism. Thus, when I noted in my previous post that the Reagan coalition brought together moral conservatives, who oppose moral liberalism, and economic conservatives, who oppose economic liberalism, the term “conservative” actually has two different […]