Laissez Faire Essay

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('I omit' says Archdeacon Paley, 'much usual declamation upon the dignity and capacity of our nature, the superiority of the soul to the body, of the rational to the animal part of our constitution; upon the worthiness, refinement, and delicacy of some satisfactions, and the meanness, grossness, and sensuality of others: because I hold that pleasures differ in nothing but in continuance and intensity' - Rousseau took the Social Contract from Locke and drew out of it the General Will.

In each case the transition was made by virtue of the new emphasis laid on equality.

But it was not long before the claims of society raised themselves anew against the individual.

Paley and Bentham accepted utilitarian hedonism from the hands of Hume and his predecessors, but enlarged it into social utility.

For more than a hundred years our philosophers ruled us because, by a miracle, they nearly all agreed or seem to agree on this one thing. The orchestra of diverse instruments, the chorus of articulate sound, is receding at last into the distance.

Laissez Faire Essay

At the end of the seventeenth century the divine right of monarchs gave place to natural liberty and to the compact, and the divine right of the church to the principle of toleration, and to the view that a church is 'a voluntary society of men', coming together, in a way which is 'absolutely free and spontaneous' (Locke, ).

These ideas accorded with the practical notions of conservatives and of lawyers.

They furnished a satisfactory intellectual foundation to the rights of property and to the liberty of the individual in possession to do what he liked with himself and with his own.

Yet some other ingredients were needed to complete the pudding.

First the corruption and incompetence of eighteenth-century government, many legacies of which survived into the nineteenth.


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