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Title: The self and the state 1580-1660
Author: Baldwin, G.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis takes as its starting point the growth in the late sixteenth century of a philosophy of the power of the state that had its origins in humanist discussions of deliberation and necessity. It charts the development of a new moral theory of political action based on the conception that actions are just if they are undertaken to preserve those institutions of the state that preserve peace. This is not only a significant development for modern political ideas in itself, but was to a marked degree in conflict with older humanist ideas of morality in politics, which had focused on the virtuous actions of public individuals. Looking at early modern political thought through the perspective of this conflict is very revealing about the growth of political ideas that led to the development of more modern and recognisably liberal ideas about politics. The significance of my findings stems partly from their capacity to correct the overwhelmingly juridical bias that currently marks the historiography of English political thought during this period. The focus of study on the period before the civil war has been the English common law, and the development within that tradition of the idea of an ancient constitution which could be used to defend rights such as habeas corpus and private property against the encroachments of an increasingly absolutist Stuart state. Constitutionalism and rights theories have been regarded as the heroes of the story, while discussion about, and justifications of, the power of the state, including 'reason of state' theories, have been regarded as adjuncts of absolutism. These discussions have in turn been regarded as a European phenomenon, typified by the French and Spanish monarchies. The civil war of 1642-9 and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 gave the British a lucky escape from this fate, and a chance to embody the idea of rights within their constitution against the wishes of their now limited monarchs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available