Idealism and Rights: The Social Ontology of Human Rights in the Political Thought of Bernard Bosanquet

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Idealism and Rights discusses the theory of rights of the British idealist political philosopher, Bernard Bosanquet. Bosanquet's political philosophy, like that of the British idealists in general, has long been subject to misunderstanding and prejudice. Yet its practical influence, in Great Britain and its empire from the late nineteenth until the mid-twentieth centuries, was profound. The author argues that Bosanquet's account of rights provides a serious response to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and ...

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Overview

Idealism and Rights discusses the theory of rights of the British idealist political philosopher, Bernard Bosanquet. Bosanquet's political philosophy, like that of the British idealists in general, has long been subject to misunderstanding and prejudice. Yet its practical influence, in Great Britain and its empire from the late nineteenth until the mid-twentieth centuries, was profound. The author argues that Bosanquet's account of rights provides a serious response to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and to the natural rights-based political philosophy of Herbert Spencer. A complete statement of Bosanquet's account requires an elaboration of his "metaphysical theory of the nature of social reality." This volume therefore presents Bosanquet's work in relation to his contemporaries, and shows how it depends on new understandings of such notions as the individual, the general will, the 'best life, and the state.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin Of The Hegel Society Of Great Britain
The book fully confirms the reputation which Sweet was already building for himself...as the leading authority on Bosanquet.
— Peter Nicholson
Indian Philosophical Quarterly
The material that one finds in the form of very enlightening and informative footnotes and references given in support of the entire argument of the book makes Professor Sweet's scholarship more conspicuous and prominent.
— S.V. Bokil
Philosophy in Review
This book is to be recommended: it makes out a good case for taking Bosanquet seriously, not only as a matter of philosophical antiquarianism, but of current philosophical concern.
— James Connelly
British Journal For The History Of Philosophy
In short, Idealism and Rights is highly recommended to the reader looking to get a grip on Bosanquet's social / political philosophy. Indeed, anyone with an interest in British Idealism or rights theory will, I think, find this work instructive. Sweet's treatment of the differences between empiricist and idealist conceptions of rights is the best of which I am aware. And his focus on Bosanquet's 'social ontology'—the metaphysical basis of state authority—provides welcome relief from the uncritical attitude so often encountered in discussions of these matters.
Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain - Peter Nicholson
The book fully confirms the reputation which Sweet was already building for himself...as the leading authority on Bosanquet.
Indian Philosophical Quarterly - S.V. Bokil
The material that one finds in the form of very enlightening and informative footnotes and references given in support of the entire argument of the book makes Professor Sweet's scholarship more conspicuous and prominent.
Geoffrey Thomas
Idealism and Rights is...clearly written and well-organized, with useful signposting through numbered and headed paragraphs, along with helpful summaries at key stages and forward pointers. A reliable account of all the central concepts and arguments of Bosanquet's political theory is set before the reader.
Philosophy in Review - James Connelly
This book is to be recommended: it makes out a good case for taking Bosanquet seriously, not only as a matter of philosophical antiquarianism, but of current philosophical concern.
William L. McBride
Professor Sweet has written a very thorough, systematic treatment of Bosanquet's ideas relevant to the major topic identified in the book's title. He displays mastery over the literature on this significant but somewhat disregarded British idealist thinker, dealing in depth with the usual objections to his political philosophy in the process of defending the possibility of a non-individual theory of rights.
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
In short, Idealism and Rights is highly recommended to the reader looking to get a grip on Bosanquet's social / political philosophy. Indeed, anyone with an interest in British Idealism or rights theory will, I think, find this work instructive. Sweet's treatment of the differences between empiricist and idealist conceptions of rights is the best of which I am aware. And his focus on Bosanquet's 'social ontology'—the metaphysical basis of state authority—provides welcome relief from the uncritical attitude so often encountered in discussions of these matters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761832553
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

William Sweet is Professor of Philosophy at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 List of Abbreviations Chapter 2 Acknowledgements Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 The Foundation of Rights in "Theories of the first look" Chapter 5 Bosanquet's Theory of Rights Chapter 6 Bosanquet's Social Ontology of Rights I: Teleology, the Individual and the General Will Chapter 7 Bosanquet's Social Ontology of Rights II: Society and the State Chapter 8 Bosanquet's Theory of Rights: An Assessment Chapter 9 Bibliography Chapter 10 Index

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