The Conservatives tend to argue that an individual can feel fulfilled only as an integral part of the society. They give precedent to community as a whole over its members. At the same time they adopt moral values espoused by the majority of the society as legally binding rules for everyone. It seems they overlook the fact that there might not be a right answer at all to the questions regarding personal preferences such as family or tradition. The fact that most of the people claim something to be the only possible choice does not make it so.
Adopting conservative policy results in individual’s autonomy being constrained in the society by the collective values that the state favours. A person might believe he or she has found the ‘real’ values in life and stick to his or her moral rules but it does not mean they must apply to everyone else. If an individual is to pursue his own happiness, as wisely written in the Declaration of Independence, he must be entitled to make his own choices. Legislating on morality must inevitably lead to the constant tension between an individual and a society. Contrary to what people claim, there might not be such thing as ‘collective wisdom’ even regarding the rules flowing from tradition. The fact that a custom has been practised for many years does not make it automatically a good one. It might be good, it might be bad but this should be left for an individual to decide. What makes my neighbour happy might not necessarily make me happy and the other way around. The importance of tradition and values flowing from it are significantly overestimated by Conservative politicians.
Since we all live in a society we must draw some lines. What kind of behaviour is acceptable, what is not. At this stage the non-aggression principle kicks in. I am allowed to do whatever I wish as long as I do not hurt anybody around. This concept is designed to make sure members of society are safe and enjoy personal freedom but at the same time they can live their lives freely. No government agency should be able to come to my own house and tell me who I may or may not marry or what I may or may not do in my own free time. Issues that so often seem controversial, for instance same-sex marriages, are in fact none of the State business. Government should make an effort to ensure public security not safeguard any moral values. Accordingly, any legislation that attempts to enforce certain moral patterns must be considered inappropriate even if justified on the grounds of long tradition.
This principle is based on a concept of negative liberty developed by John Stuart Mill in 19th century. It stipulates that to be entirely free and fulfilled an individual should be left alone to pursue his own goals. A society as an entity is a good thing as long as it serves an individual but it is the individual that should always be given priority.