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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 29 June 2022

p. 30517. Burkelocked

p. 30517. Burkelocked

  • David Boucher

Abstract

This chapter examines Edmund Burke's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Burke before discussing the three main interpretations of him: first, as a utilitarian; second, in relation to natural law; and the third, which attempts to bring together the two antithetical interpretations. It argues that even though Burke has elements of utilitarianism in his thought, and although he subscribes to natural law and universal principles, both somehow have to coincide in the traditions and institutional practices of a community. On the question of political obligation, although he uses the language of contract, it is clear that Burke does not subscribe to its central tenets. The chapter proceeds by exploring Burke's views on sovereignty, constitutionalism, colonialism, and slavery.

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