Democracy and the Rule of Law

Lesson Two: What is Liberalism

With a basic understanding of democracy established, students will learn about two philosophical underpinnings of democracy in Canada: reason and individual rights.

1 Provide students with the following definition of reason, from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Reason is the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

Ask students to review their answers to questions 4b) and 4c) in Defining Democracy, from Lesson One. What role does reason play in how they form opinions and beliefs?

NOTE: Teachers may wish to connect this discussion with dialectic essay requirements in senior Social Studies, or other tools they use for teaching logic and decision-making.

2. To establish the idea that our society subscribes to a broad set of philosophical values that encourages reason, distribute and read the handout Defining Liberalism.

• How does listening to others help facilitate reason?

3. Classic liberalism emphasizes the individual over the group. However, we are all individuals as part of a society. Have students form groups to discuss this idea. The following question can help to guide discussion:

• What should take priority in society: the individual or the collective?

4. After students report their findings about the individual and the collective, lead class discussion on the following question:

• What did this group work tell us about the importance of the individual and the importance of the collective?

Case Study
5. Partisanship, Reason, and Climate Change explores the role of partisanship and the role of reason in debates surrounding climate change.

Further Exploration
6. Teachers wishing to further explore how Canadians balance individual rights with collective well-being should check out Lesson 1.3: Public Goods and Services in Our Government, Our Election.

Defining Liberalism


Partisanship, Reason, and Climate Change

Case Study

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