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Title: The political philosophy of Richard Price
Author: Thomas, David Oswald
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1956
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This essay is concerned with the political thought of Richard Price, the Eighteenth Century Dissenter and publicist on moral, theological, political and financial matters. In particular, it is an attempt to show how his political philosophy is influenced by his discussion of ethical questions and by his pre-occupation with the problems of freedom of worship. He applies his basic principle, that each individual has both a duty and a right to act and to govern himself in accordance with the deliverances of his own conscience in various ways; it is made to serve the Dissenters in their quest for religious freedom, it forms the basis of the radical transformation of whig political theory, and it is brought to the defence of the American colonists in their struggle for self-government. An examination of these different applications of this principle draws attention to Price's interpretation of the claims of conscience, to his contribution to the Eighteenth Century debate to the nature of moral judgment, and to his justification of democracy. In criticism it is suggested that he distorts the nature of moral and political obligation by misconstruing the 'privacy' of individual conscience, and by interpreting the function of reason in ethics in terms of an incorrigible and non-discursive intuition. An attempt is then made to re-interpret Price's defence of liberal and democratic institutions on the assumption that we have subsidiary obligations to criticise our consciences and to secure the adjustment of conflicting moral conceptions. Burke's attack upon him as a representative of the radical philosophers is also discussed, and, in the light of recent criticism, an attempt is made to assess to what extent his defence of democratic institutions has illiberal tendencies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political Science