This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of liberalism, which is best understood as an expansive, philosophical notion. Liberalism is a collection of political, social, and economic doctrines and institutions that encompasses classical liberalism, left liberalism, liberal market socialism, and certain central values. This chapter then introduces subsequent chapters, which are divided into three parts. Part I, “Liberalism, Libertarianism, and Economic Justice,” clarifies the distinction between classical liberalism and the high liberal tradition and their relation to capitalism, and then argues that libertarianism is not a liberal view. Part II, “Distributive Justice and the Difference Principle,” analyzes and applies John Rawls’s principles of justice to economic systems and private law. Part III, “Liberal Institutions and Distributive Justice,” focuses on the crucial role of liberal institutions and procedures in determinations of distributive justice and addresses why the first principles of a moral conception of justice should presuppose general facts in their justification.
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