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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Isaiah Berlin

Isaiah Berlin

Political Theory and Liberal Culture

Chapter:
(p.395) 20 Isaiah Berlin
Source:
The Making of Modern Liberalism
Author(s):

Alan Ryan

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.003.0021

This chapter examines Isaiah Berlin's political theory, with a particular focus on his argument for a kind of liberalism suited to a pluralist culture such as our own. It also asks why Berlin did not confront more directly the difficulty that all commentators have addressed: that pluralism is not particularly the natural ally of liberalism. After some biographical background, the chapter moves to Berlin as a historian of ideas, a student of distinctively Russian social and political themes, and a defender of a distinctively pluralist, anti-utopian liberalism. The division is artificial in the extreme, and the issues raised in each area of discussion are inextricably intertwined. The not particularly liberal Niccolo Machiavelli is invoked in aid of a liberal moral pluralism, as is the much more liberal Russian Alexander Herzen.

Keywords:   liberalism, Isaiah Berlin, political theory, pluralism, Niccolo Machiavelli, Alexander Herzen

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