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Conceptualizing the StateInnovation and Dispute in British Political Thought 1880-1914$
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James Meadowcroft

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206019.001.0001

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Bernard Bosanquet, Leonard Hobhouse, and the State

Bernard Bosanquet, Leonard Hobhouse, and the State

(p.113) 3 Bernard Bosanquet, Leonard Hobhouse, and the State
Conceptualizing the State


Oxford University Press

The theoretical and practical endeavours of Bernard Bosanquet (1840–1923) and L. T. Hobhouse (1864–1929) present an interesting mix of contrast and affinity. Both men combined scholarly pursuits — Bosanquet was one of the most prominent philosophers of his generation, while Hobhouse became the first Professor of Sociology at a British university — with a dedication to practical projects for social improvement. Both considered themselves Liberals and reformers. But while Hobhouse was in the van of the movement to expand government regulation and redistributive economics, Bosanquet opposed many schemes to extend state benefits to the needy. Both men considered ‘the state’ as the master concept of political theory, conceiving this institution as a form of ethical community devoted to the promotion of the common good. However, they had quite different evaluations of the nature of the state; of the extent to which it represented a supreme community or embodied an authority more true to individual will than immediate consciousness; of the appropriate range of state action; and of the importance of universal citizen involvement in political affairs.

Keywords:   Bernard Bosanquet, L. T. Hobhouse, state, government regulation, redistributive economics, common good, state benefits, community, authority

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