Defining the Common Good: Empire, Religion and Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain

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This book discusses the crisis of the early modern state in eighteenth-century Britain and sets it in its European context. The American Revolution and the simultaneous demand for wider religious toleration at home challenged the principles of sovereignty and obligation that underpinned arguments about the character of the state. At stake was a fundamental challenge to the way in which politics was described. The Americans and their British supporters argued that individuals, by voting and thinking freely, ought to determine the common good. These influential ideas continue to resonate today in the principles of one man, one vote and freedom of thought.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" both powerful and satisfying....a fine and stimulating book, written by someone who combines considerable learning with an acute historical should become essential for all students of the period." Journal of Modern History

"...Miller triumphantly succeeds in a work of sustained sophistication and remarkably wide learning....Miller's is a powerful and original vision which demands attention." Times Literary Supplement

"This is an erudite and attractively expressed study in intellectual history. Part of a prestigious series, it comes with the imprimatur of influential Cambridge scholars who have done much to shape our understanding of how we should approach the political thought of the early-modern period." Albion

"A splendid contribution...Elaborate bibliography." R.H. Thompson, Choice

"Suffice it to say that Defining the Common Good not only introduces the reader to the complexities of eighteenth century British thought, but provides him with a wealth of both primary and secondary bibliographical sources. The book's principal value lies in the synopsis of views entertained by the eighteenth century British intelligensia. The players are numerous, disagreements between major figures abound, but there is an intelligibility to the discourse, provided in part by the common classical education of the participants who not only read the ancients but took each other seriously." Review of Metaphysics

"The essyas are scholarly and will be useful to historians of science as well as those interested in the interface between science and social values." J.C. Kricher, Choice

"Visions of Empire emerged out of a conference celebrating the acquisition of Joseph Bank's florilegium by the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA. The miracle of the publication of botanical illustrtions from the copper plates so carefully and scientifically produced by the consortium around Banks was indeed worth celebrating." Greg Dening, American Anthropologist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521442596
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/16/1994
  • Series: Ideas in Context Series, #29
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The figure of Cicero 21
2 A classical landscape 88
3 State and empire 150
4 The limits of sovereignty and obligation 214
5 The common good, toleration and freedom of thought 266
6 'Alternatives' to the common good 1774-1776 349
Conclusion 413
Bibliography 422
Index 463
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