Liberal values are universal values?

Tim Hayward

Today I started to read an article. It began by way of a preamble stating the author’s ‘commitment to universal liberal values’. I stopped right there. My train of thought went off at a tangent to the author’s.

I assumed he didn’t mean values that are universally held amongst liberals only, rather than by subscribers to other creeds, for that would be a misleading use of the term ‘universal’.

I thereby found myself pondering: If we suppose there are universal values, and if we accept that not everyone is liberal, then we know that those values are recognized not only by liberals.

So wouldn’t it be inappropriate to attribute to liberals intellectual property in those values?

Even if we grant that there are values that liberals were the first to conceive of – which I think is a lot to grant but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument…

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