Edmund Burke and the Anglo-American tradition of liberty

João Carlos Espada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


It is proper for more reasons than the most obvious one that I should open this talk by quoting a former President of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Lord Quinton, whose works on political philosophy I have so much enjoyed—and learnt from. In a chapter on political philosophy, which he contributed to the Oxford History of Western Philosophy, Lord Quinton says that ‘the effect of the importation of Locke's doctrines in to France was much like that of alcohol in an empty stomach’. In Britain, Lord Quinton adds, Locke's principles ‘served to endorse a largely conservative revolution against absolutist innovation’, whereas in France the importation of Locke's ideas would lead to the radicalism of the French revolution. Why was this so? I think this is a tremendously important question which has captured the imagination of several generations of Anglophiles in Europe. In this talk today I do not pretend to have an answer to this extremely important and intricate question—and one may wonder whether there is a single answer to this question. All I would like to do is to suggest a possible ingredient for a possible answer to the question. And I would like to suggest, furthermore, that perhaps the ingredient I am going to suggest and certainly the question posed by Lord Quinton are still relevant today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplement: 58
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511599736
ISBN (Print)9780521695596
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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