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Welfarist and moral justifications of the strong state : reconciling Hobhouse's and Bosanquet's perspectives on the role of the state.

Dimova-Cookson, Maria (2014) 'Welfarist and moral justifications of the strong state : reconciling Hobhouse's and Bosanquet's perspectives on the role of the state.', in The Victorian legacy in political thought. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 145-166. Victorian and Edwardian studies. (4).


The paper traces the legacy of late Victorian and early Edwardian political thought in the shaping contemporary political values and theories. Nowadays the debate on the desirability of big government is highly heated, even though the welfare state has become part of the western political establishment, and it would be of interest to see the arguments through which the advocacy of the strong state was conducted in its early stages. Two sets of such arguments are studied in more detail: the welfarist arguments of L.T.Hobhouse and the moral arguments of Bernard Bosanquet. The two thinkers shared the judgement that their beliefs and ideas were incompatible as each of them balanced the demands for liberty with the justification for the strong state in a different way. I argue that in spite of these authors’ mutual disagreement, their arguments were supplementary: more specifically that the idealist metaphysics behind Bosanquet’s moral argument offered resolution to the problems of Hobhouse’s welfarist project. The philosophical exchange between the two thinkers is of interest from the point of view how political theory has developed throughout the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Hobhouse’s critique of Bosanquet’s moral theory of the state anticipates the negative liberalism of the latter haft of twentieth century. Bosanquet’s argumentation, in turn, anticipates the late twentieth century communitarian challenge to this form of liberalism as well as the twenty first century theorisation of ethical particularism underpinning the national-cosmopolitan debates.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript that has been published in The Victorian Legacy in Political Thought edited by Catherine Marshall and Stéphane Guy in the series Victorian and Edwardian Studies. The original work can be found at: © Peter Lang AG, 2014. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:24 April 2017
Date of first online publication:12 May 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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