Front Page Titles (by Subject) Consensus and Authority - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
Consensus and Authority - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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- Associate Editors
- Bibliographical Essay: Eric Foner, Radical Individualism In America: Revolution to Civil War
- I: Methodology
- Scientific Paradigms and History
- Kuhn's Paradigm
- Paradigm Choice, Art, and Reason
- Do Concepts Mold Percepts?
- Paradigms Vs. Research Programmes
- Kuhn and Historical Truth
- Paradigms and Determinism
- A Historian Between Paradigms
- Survival of the Fittest Paradigms?
- Fumbling Toward Truth
- Necessary Truths and Reality
- Economic Laws
- “pure” Vs. “grubby” Knowledge
- Paradigms and Social Change
- II: Consensus, Obedience, and Dissent
- State and Society
- Consensus and Authority
- Civil Disobedience
- Dissent and Virtue
- Underdevelopment Vs. Consensus
- Democracy Vs. Elitism
- Majority Tyranny
- Majority Frustration
- Consensus Vs. Politics
- Consensus and Rights
- Consensus Vs. Majority Rule
- III: Consent and Coercion
- The Right Against Coercion
- Private Property and Coercion
- Consent, Coercion, and Property
- Threats Vs. Offers
- A Clockwork Orange, Freedom, and Coercion
- Weak Will Vs. Compulsion
- Freedom and Using Others
- Equality and Social Coercion
- Human Action Vs. Behavior
- IV: Regulation
- The Regulating Class
- Regulation and Revolution
- Land Expropriation
- State Planning
- Hoover As Regulator
- State Science Research
- The Costs of Research
- Sec Regulation
- Sunset Laws
- V: Social Control
- Power and Servility
- State Vs. Education
- Public Vs. Private Education
- Public Schools Vs. Privacy
- Truant Officers As Scapegoats
- Were Professionals Technocrats?
- The Courts and Social Control
- The Army and Social Control
- Land Use and Control
- VI: The Liberal Tradition
- The History of Liberalism
- Freedom and Progress
- Reason and Progress
- Individualism, Property, and Revolt
- Liberal Class Analysis
- Nature and Liberty
- Free Trade and Development
- Liberalism In Transition
- “positive” Liberalism
- Utilitarian Illiberalism
- Spencer and Laissez-faire
- Mill: Liberal Or Socialist?
- Research Fields
- Philosophy of Science
- Political Philosophy
- Political Science
- Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (act of August 12, 1970: Section 3685, Title 39, United States Code)
Consensus and Authority
“The Idea of Authority in the West.” American Historical Review 82 (April 1977): 531–562.
Today the decline and crisis of authority is evident in the West. How can we account for the present tendency either to revolution or totalitarianism as solutions to social problems?
Synthesizing events and ideas from Roman times to the present, our initial conclusion is most important. The historical pattern discloses two persistent ideas of authority: moral authority and authoritative power. Generally, authoritative power usurps moral authority: e.g., the concept of divine right was initially a check on state power exercised by the church, but later was used as a justification by the monarchists.
Unless one understands that authority did not mean the same things to all men, the question would be a historical riddle. If we place things in context, we will then discover that “each creative burst of our culture has been accompanied by the elevation of authorities whose superiority is freely accepted by dint of their rationality and legality, but that our modern idea of authority as a title to domination however exercised is a teleological idea derived from the use of force, the hostility to reason, the superiority to law, and the opposition to liberalization which these authorities have cumulatively appropriated.”
What does the future hold? We can project three probabilities.
- (1) The decline of moral authority seems historically deep-seated and is likely to continue: family, school, and church will decline as independent forces, and become less meaningful institutions.
- (2) Political power may increase, exposing freedom-seeking persons to institutionalized power lacking responsible authority.
- (3) New independent forms of moral authority may arise.
Since, historically, social authority has produced authoritarian personalities mirroring the coercive society, we might reverse the process. We can hope that self-integrated and actualized persons might produce a rational social authority that mirrors such persons.