Paraliberal Perspective

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This is what I mean by 'paraliberal'

I make a distinction beween an ortholiberal and a paraliberal approach to liberalism where these approaches differ with respect to their view of values in society. The paraliberal view emphasizes that some values (i.e. values that pertain to some important topics) are so significant for society and for the state that society should foster a common value culture where values can be discussed openly, revised when there are sufficient reasons for doing so, and conveyed to the next generation for them to adopt or to reject.

Protecting the common value culture requires some proactive measures by the state, for example, for organizing work towards a consensus on society-founding values. The opposite view, which I call ortholiberalism, holds that the state should not be proactive in those respects, and that it is up to each individual to choose their own values, without any influence from the organized society.

The following are some important aspects of the paraliberal view.

A Balance between Too Little and Too Much

One argument in favor of the ortholiberal point of view is that if the state is proactive with respect to values then it enters a 'slippery slope' that may well lead to more and more state control of public opinion. This risk is recognized in the paraliberal view, but it retorts that there is also a complementary risk on the other side: if the state does not accept any responsibility for protecting the values that keep society together then it leaves the field open for destructive influences and influencers. In particular, those that represent totalitarian ideologies, as well as the self-serving interests of a commercial or an imperialistic character.

One of the most important issues for the paraliberal view is therefore how to strike a balance between these two risks: how should laws and governance be organized so as to mitigate both of them? The safeguards for the freedom of expression and the choice of valid restrictions on that freedom is one of the topics where this balance must be sought.

Values is the Integrating Force in Liberalism

Liberalism has two major parts, arguably, namely its view of the individual and of governance. In a paraliberal perspective, values are essential for connecting these two parts. Individuals must have some restrictions on their use of freedom, and values are restrictions that each individual can choose for themselves. Laws are a necessary feature of a state, but these laws must reflect commonly held values in order to be respected. Moreover, everything can not be regulated by laws, and the value-based behavior of responsible citizens is a necessary complement to laws.

What is Meant by 'Values' in this Context?

The paraliberal view recognizes two major types of values, namely static values and attitudes. "The sanctity of all human life" is an example of a static value, whereas an attitude (in our sense) can be described by a quote from the definition of 'values' from Oxford Languages which is:

Principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgement of what is important in life.

Unfortunately, the word 'attitude' can also be used for a transient expression of a person's mood, which is very different from a standard of behavior. That meaning of 'attitude' is not intended here. The page under the main heading 'Structure' and the sub-heading 'Values' contains an additional discussion of what may be meant by 'values'.