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Love and Duty in the Political Thought of Edmund Burke



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Armstrong, Madeleine 


This is the first book-length study of the family in Edmund Burke’s political thought. It situates Burke’s ideas about the family within his broader interest in the civic importance of love and duty, which also encompassed love and duty toward friends, country, and mankind. Although the influence of what has been called the “family model” of Burke’s interpretation of the French Revolution has been acknowledged by cultural historians, the importance of the family to Burke has been underestimated by historians of political thought. In the existing scholarship, Burke is portrayed as a defender of the hierarchical, patriarchal family whose primary concern was to uphold the social order within the organisation of family life. This study reveals that Burke wished to defend the foundations of love and duty within the family in order to prevent the rise of tyranny. In his writings and speeches about empire and revolution, Burke identified the destruction of the family as one of the first warning signs of despotic power. Liberty depended, in his view, upon the strength and security of relationships within the family. By establishing the importance of the family to Burke, this study also draws attention to the importance of the family in the history of political thought.





Tomaselli, Sylvana


Duty, Edmund Burke, Enlightenment, Family, History of Political Thought, Love


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Trust