But doesn’t adherence to this philosophy lead you to favoring certain things while rejecting certain others? Which of the options would a conservative support and which would he reject?
Again, a conservative might support or reject certain aspects of all of the choices you listed.
Big business or small business.
I would reject the fact that small business (mom & pop) tend to have higher prices as a result of the way they do business. That is not good for the consumer. On the other hand, I support small business in that employers, in some ways, almost bring employees into the family so to speak and one has the opportunity to enjoy a close relationship with the owners. On the other hand, I don't like the fact that in small business, one can see a limit to one's chain of advancement almost from the first day one goes to work.
I like the fact that a small player can own stock in a large corporation and enjoy the profits of big business without having to be a real part of a large somewhat impersonal business. I don't like that large corporations are somewhat impersonal, but that is just me. Other people may not want to be friends with the people they work with which is their right. There are aspects of big business that I like and aspects that I don't like.
On the whole, I favor business, large or small, over government.
Profits now or conservation of natural resources for later use.
Both. One should take profit now from resources with an eye on concervation for later use. The millions upon millions of acres that have burned in the past 8 or 10 years are a fine example of what happens if one takes conservation too far. Had that land been thinned properly (profit now) it would not have burned to the point that all was lost until entire forests can regrow. I don't know how old you are, but I can remember environmentalists warning us that by the early 1980's, resources were going to become so scarce that only the most wealthy people were going to be able to afford anything if we didn't stop consuming. Well, here we are almost 30 years beyond the beginning of the 80's and resources are less scarse than at any time in human history. Recycling has become one of our largest industries.
So I favor taking profit from our resources while managing those resources for the future.
If it feels right do it or absolute moral standards.
There are no absolute moral standards. I have no right to impose my morals on you. What you do in the privacy of your own space is not my business so long as you are not breaking any law. For example, it is my business if you are killing the mailman in the privacy of your basement.
By the same token, "if it feels right, do it" is a sure prescription for the failure of society. What if it feels right to you to kill the mailman in the privacy of your basement. Each of us is a single entity in a larger society and we each have a responsibility to the rest of society. We are not the center of the universe and our actions do not take place in a vaccum. Everything we do creates a ripple through the entire society and if we can't restrain ourselves from actions that are harmful to the society in general, then society has a responsibility to restrain us.
Isolationism or pro-active foreign policy to promote democracy.
Again, both. There are times when we should take care of our own before we adventure into the world to promote what is obviously the best way of life on earth and there are times when taking care of our own requires that we venture into the world to eliminate malignant governments from the face of the earth. If you posess the strenght to stop needless torture and misery being heaped upon a people and you don't, then you are hardly better than the one who is heaping the torture and misery. There are times when you simply have to get involved for the good of all.
Small government or letting the government do whatever needs to be done when private enterprise cannot or will not do it.
I favor small government, but realise that there are things that government does that the private sector can not, and should not be tasked with. The more important issue you bring up here, is a question that should be directed to those who favor large governement. I would ask you for a few examples of government taking on a task that it has succeeded in that the private sector could not do.
If you are speaking to welfare and social programs, they are, as a group, abject failures that have cost trillions of dollars, created generational dependence, and destroyed an entire culture. I don't believe that you can be forgiven for destroying families just because it was an unintended consequence of a project that was taken on with good intentions. Welfare programs harken back directly to one of the tenets of conservativism, that being: Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.
When one undertakes grand projects, one should take the time to genuinely look for the ways that said projects could go wrong with more dilligance than one looks for the possible benefits.
Individualism or society
Individualism is the basis for a strong society. See tenet of conservativism #2:
Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
Being an individual, however, is not license to take actions that harm the entire society. One has the responsibility to recognize that as one individual, among many, we are not the center of the universe and existence does not revolve around us.
It is the modern liberal philosophy that is destroying individualism. Consider the irony of a philosophy (modern liberalism) that calls for live and let live and enforces that demand by supervising everything. For the sake of our freedom it empowers bureaucrats to reconstruct our very human nature. It appeals to " we the people," while reserving the right to make us into whatever it thinks fit.
Individualism is the very essence of freedom but if you ask any modern liberal whether he favors freedom or equality, equality is the answer you will get and equality is not compatible with freedom. If you are a student of math, you know quite well that equality only exists at the lowest common denominator.