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What is the proper role of government in social life?

Your task is to respond to the questions below by weaving together your understanding of ideas and evidence from the readings into a coherent, well-reasoned essay.

FORMAT: Your total responses to both questions should be 8 to 9 pages typed, double spaced.


Knowledge of the texts and of the ideas we’ve discussed in class (reference to the lectures alone is not sufficient)

Quality of the arguments

Evidence of having intellectually engaged the topics and ideas

Grammar, spelling, style and organization


As I read your responses, I’ll be looking for evidence that you read the assigned works (meaning the actual articles, not just the editors’ summaries of the articles). You should put the ideas from the readings in your own words except when you are including a direct quote – and when you include a direct quote, make sure that you use quotation marks, clearly identify which reading you are quoting from, and include the page number. Unmarked quoted passages are a misrepresentation of another’s words as your own. I encourage you to include direct quotes. However, don’t turn your essay into one long string of quotes.


1) What is “classical liberalism”? Include its perspective on (a) the proper role of government and (b) the best way to structure an economy, and why.

2) One of the most important features of contemporary politics is what James Antle calls the “conservative crack-up.” Although they overlap on some issues, the major varieties of conservatism sharply disagree on others. We have discussed traditional conservatism (Burke, Oakeshott, Kirk), neoconservatism (Reagan, Kristol), and libertarianism (Allen, Mill). A. For each type of conservatism: (a) What are the main issues emphasized?


(b) What is the proper role of government in social life?


  1. Finally, what are the most important topics on which contemporary conservatives are likely to disagree?

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