Discourse in the humanities and social sciences has become ideologically siloed, making it increasingly difficult to reap the benefits of the productive collision of ideas. Intellectually homogeneous groups that resist challenge, no matter where on the spectrum of ideas, risk becoming stagnant. Those sympathetic to classical liberal ideas—defenders of the open society, individual liberty, limited government, and free markets—risk propagating weak arguments if never questioned.
This project aims to invigorate the interdisciplinary study of classical liberal ideas. We propose to support research that examines tensions between classical liberal ideas and the attainment of three social goods: the tension between liberty and equality, dynamism and stability, and open inquiry and social cohesion. The project will address these questions:
1. What is our understanding of equality and its importance in a free society?
2. Can human flourishing advance while social and economic change undercut stability in the lives of those who do not benefit directly from dynamism?
3. Can we maintain a commitment to open inquiry while preserving respectful exchange in a diverse world?
We will convene scholars of diverse viewpoints through 60 workshops, conference panels, and publication opportunities, leading to 296 unique research contributions and 627 engagements with scholars. Each manuscript and dissertation workshop will produce at least one book manuscript or dissertation; each conference panel will produce at least two research papers; and each research paper workshop and collected essay volume will produce at least 12 research papers or book chapters.
In addressing big questions related to equality, dynamism, and open inquiry, we can have a positive impact on some of today’s most pressing issues. More robust thinking will result in significantly more effective strategies for addressing these “wicked problems” in the social, political, and economic spheres.