Priestley on Politics, Progress and Moral Theology

In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-86 (1996)
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Abstract

This essay compares and contrast Priestley and Burke on the nature of progress and politics and why, after having begun as political comrades, they arrived at such different evaluations of the French Revolution. Priestley had a robust account of progress, Burke a fragile one. Priestley's ideal, unlike Burke's, was not that of civic virtue but that of commercial virtue. By restricting the scope of government, Priestley diminished the status of the political virtues.

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Alan Tapper
Curtin University, Western Australia

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