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Romantic Liberalism: An Alternative Perspective on Liberal Disrespect in the Muhammad Cartoons Controversy
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2014 (English)In: Political Studies, ISSN 0032-3217, E-ISSN 1467-9248, Vol. 62, no 1, 53-69 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is increasing scholarly concern that liberalism comes into conflict with religious diversity. William Galston blames this tendency on ‘enlightenment liberalism’, which places autonomous self-reflection at the heart of the liberal project. This paper, however, proposes a culprit that is more prone to both disrespect and fundamentalism: romantic liberalism, which idealises authentic self-expression. I develop this concept by re-visiting the Danish cartoon controversy, allegedly a case of enlightenment liberalism. This reveals that Flemming Rose, the editor who commissioned the cartoons, invokes romantic rather than enlightened values in defense of the publication. In contrast to previous research, I show that Rose does not portray the disrespectfulness of the cartoons as a side effect of trying to promote autonomy among Muslims. Rather, he argues in favor of artistic provocation as such, and invokes a distinctly romantic understanding of freedom of speech, which in many ways runs counter to the ideal of autonomy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014. Vol. 62, no 1, 53-69 p.
Keyword [en]
Romanticism, authenticity, autonomy, Galston, freedom of speech, enlightenment liberalism, diversity, tolerance, positive liberty, self-expression
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159137DOI: 10.1111/1467-9248.12022ISI: 000331387300004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-159137DiVA: diva2:442662
Projects
The Impact of Religion
Available from: 2011-09-22 Created: 2011-09-21 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Treacherous Liberties: Isaiah Berlin's Theory of Positive and Negative Freedom in Contemporary Political Culture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Treacherous Liberties: Isaiah Berlin's Theory of Positive and Negative Freedom in Contemporary Political Culture
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Förrädiska friheter : Isaiah Berlin's teori om positiv och negativ frihet i samtida politisk kultur
Abstract [en]

Contemporary attitudes in affluent Western societies are characterised by a growing emphasis on individual freedom. What, then, does this commitment to liberty entail for our openness to diversity; and ultimately for liberal democracy? Previous research on popular attitudes, for example by Ronald Inglehart, tends to assume that valuing freedom entails an encouragement of a plurality of life-styles. This thesis, by contrast, argues that there are several ideals of freedom in public opinion; ideals that may have opposing consequences for our permissiveness towards ways of life that differ from our own.

The introductory essay in this book suggests that Isaiah Berlin’s theory of positive and negative freedom provides a fruitful analytical framework, which helps theorise and empirically nuance our picture of popular ideals of freedom. Essay I goes on to present a novel, psychological, interpretation of Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty. This essay also suggests that Berlin was critical not only of enlightened ideals of positive liberty, but also of romantic ones, which might be even more widespread today. Essay II then applies Berlin’s framework to contemporary survey data. Through confirmatory factor and regression analyses, this essay demonstrates that Berlin’s negative-positive distinction does in fact hold also in popular opinion; and that the two dimensions have rather different effects on moral and legal permissiveness. Essay III, finally, revisits a recent example of disrespect in the name of liberty: the Danish cartoon controversy. This essay develops the concept of ‘romantic liberalism’, thereby deepening our knowledge of romantic ideals of positive liberty, and their particularly disrespectful tendencies.

Drawing on Isaiah Berlin, and his critique of positive liberty, the essays in this thesis together suggest that it is crucial for liberal democracy to recognise the existence of treacherous liberties: ideals that lead their supporters to ridicule, condemn, or even prohibit ways of life that differ from their own – all in the name of liberty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2011. 130 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 73
Keyword
freedom, liberty, values, autonomy, authenticity, tolerance, liberalism, permissiveness, Romanticism, Enlightenment, diversity, Inglehart, political culture, civicness, factor analysis
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-158848 (URN)978-91-554-8165-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-11-04, Brusewitzsalen, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Gamla Torget 6, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
The Impact of Religion
Available from: 2011-10-14 Created: 2011-09-18 Last updated: 2011-11-04Bibliographically approved

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Gustavsson, Gina

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