By David Conway (auth.)
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Additional resources for Classical Liberalism: The Unvanquished Ideal
In other words, it would be fair to say that classical liberals are very much in a minority among the intelligentsia of presentday liberal societies. Although by no means classical liberals, the overwhelming majority of present-day intellectuals in the Western democracies would consider themselves liberal on issues other than those connected with equality, such as personal morality and life-style. Indeed, the term 'liberal' has now come to stand in some of these countries, notably, the USA, for someone who supports egalitarian policies.
This inference seems clearly invalid. Compare: from the fact that a person does not believe that London is the capital of England, it cannot be inferred that the person believes London is not the capital of England. The person may never have heard of either London or England, or if he has have no opinion on the subject. Likewise, a person might not deserve to have been born with the superior life-prospects to others arising from the undeserved better looks or brains with which they have been born.
The answer is that, in this area, it is vitally important to distinguish cases. Let us begin right at the beginning, with a new-born baby. Here, we have a human being unable to provide for itself. This is so, whether the baby is born healthy or congenitally disabled. Let us begin by supposing the baby is healthy. It will die unless cared for by someone. If a new-born is left to die, is this a case of its being harmed or merely of its not being benefited? Certainly, through not being cared for, its life would be worse than it would have been had it been cared for.