David Boucher

in Political Thinkers

Third edition

Published on behalf of © Editorial matter and organization Oxford University Press; © Chapters their respective authors

Published in print May 2017 | ISBN: 9780198708926
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191850998 | DOI:

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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.

Keywords: political obligation; Edmund Burke; natural law; utilitarianism; community; sovereignty; constitutionalism; colonialism; slavery

Chapter.  12761 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory ; Political Philosophy

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