Philosophy and internationalist ethics

Casper Sylvest

in British Liberal Internationalism, 1880-1930

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079092
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703151 | DOI:
Philosophy and internationalist ethics

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This chapter explores the internationalist ideology that emerged from the political and social thought of Herbert Spencer and Henry Sidgwick. A discussion of the role of philosophical idealists, including Thomas Hill Green, David George Ritchie and Bernard Bosanquet, is presented. Green influenced a new generation of liberals and internationalists in important ways. Ritchie foresaw how the struggle among states would be tamed through the development of ethics and the widening of communities. Spencer's ideas about international politics fall clearly within the bounds of liberal internationalism. It is Sidgwick's scepticism towards dogmatism in religious affairs that has coloured his image. The Elements of Politics and The Development of European Polity were consistent in their projection and pursuit of basic internationalist ideals. The analysis points to the concomitant diversity and strength of internationalism as a political ideology among successful liberal philosophers and their audiences in the late nineteenth century.

Keywords: internationalist ideology; Herbert Spencer; Henry Sidgwick; Thomas Hill Green; David George Ritchie; Bernard Bosanquet; ethics; liberal internationalism; political ideology

Chapter.  21533 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory

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