A political and economic theory or philosophy that emphasizes the freedom and essential goodness of the autonomous individual and a minimal role for government in society while relying heavily on the self regulating market.
Coming from libertas, meaning "liberty" or "freedom", this concept refers to freedom from control by government, tradition, or an established church. It typically celebrates the potential of the individual and is more the antecedent of today's conservatism than of New Deal liberalism.
Political philosophy founded on the notion that individual human beings are autonomous agents with inviolable rights and that the powers of government arise from the people.
One of the major Western political ideologies. In classical liberalism the highest value is placed on each individual's natural rights to life, liberty, and property and the freedom of the individual to pursue these rights as an independent actor. Government plays a very limited role under classical liberalism, which celebrates a laissez-faire economy and discourages government attempts to create material equality (although equality of opportunity is important). Political thinkers associated with classical liberal thought include John Locke (1632-1704), Adam Smith (1723-1790), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).
exemplified by the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights, liberty meant individual freedoms, and political safeguards, equality meant equality before the law, not equality of political participation or wealth. (p. 697)