By Frank O'Gorman

A concise and readable account of Burke's political philosophy. in addition to interpreting the basis for Burke's proposal, the booklet additionally offers a lot wanted connections among the fields of background and political conception. serious remark and research of Burke's attitudes to the issues of the second one half the eighteenth century also are integrated.

Available by itself, or as a part of the 9-volume reissue of the vintage Political Thinkers sequence.

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Additional resources for Edmund Burke (Political Thinkers)

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There was no hint here of social reform, no intimation of consulting the wishes of the people, no conception of a changing or developing polity. The function of government was to preserve the state and its institutions. Necessary adjustments, adaptations and changes might occur but, ultimately, existing institutions must survive. This first duty of government, however, was not a matter of legislation: 3 Works, X, 51–2 (Speech on the Unitarians Petition, 11 May 1792). THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION 53 Nations are not primarily ruled by laws; less by violence.

153–63, passim. 36 Works, II, 337 (Thoughts). , 239. , 260. THE PHILOSOPHER OF PARTY 37 the men who needed to be changed. Party was the vehicle by which this change would be effected: Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of an evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is undertaken counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable….

This is clear enough and explains why Burke regarded certain actions as illegal. But what gave to the constitution the enormous authority and prestige with which Burke credited it? The answer can be found in Burke’s idea of prescription. His conception of prescription validated the titles to authority of existing institutions by their use and longevity. Unlike the Natural Law philosophers, Burke was uninterested in the original titles to authority or even property. For Burke, usage alone validated a title.

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