Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » Spring Term 2011-2012 » Freedom and Rhetoric: Reappraising European Political Thought, 1500-2000

Freedom and Rhetoric: Reappraising European Political Thought, 1500-2000

Research seminar

Prof. Martin van Gelderen

Thursdays 13:10-15:00, sala Belvedere

Secretary: Monica Palao Calvo (Office Vs 014)

Starts on 19 January 2012



Seminar description

In the past decades the study of modern European political thought has gone through a series of substantial, if not dramatic changes. New approaches, new figures, new topics and new traditions have come to the fore; canonical figures, topics and traditions are being reassessed and some forgotten authors and ideas have been revived in remarkable ways.

The principal aim of this seminar is to look critically at some of the more recent studies of canonical, revived and new figures, focusing on the topic of freedom, which has very much returned to the center of both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory in the past decades --not to mention the passionate appeals to freedom in revolutions from 1989 until the days of the Arab spring. Freedom is one of the (rare?) bridges between history, contemporary philosophy and the world of practical politics. The seminar looks at new studies of religious freedom, republican liberty and some reappraisals of liberalism.

The second aim of the seminar is to explore the importance of what is sometimes called ‘the rhetorical turn’ for the study of freedom. The focus on ‘rhetoric’ --be it as a legacy of post-modernism or as part of the remarkable revival of classical studies--  plays at least at two levels, highlighting not only the importance of the study of rhetoric and rhetorical strategies as an integral part of the study of political thought but also the role of rhetoric in historical interpretation and in contemporary political theory.


12 January: No session-- please note that this course starts on Thursday 19 January


19 January: Florence and Freedom: Machiavelli and Republican Liberty

Primary Sources:

• Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses, Book I, Chapter 2-9, avaliable in many editions.


• Quentin Skinner, ‘The Idea of Negative Liberty: Machiavellian and Modern Perspectives’ in Visions of Politics. Volume II: Renaissance Virtues, Cambridge, 2002, pp. 186-212.

• John McCormick, ‘Republicanism and Democracy’ in Machiavellian Democracy, Cambridge, 2011, pp. 141-169.


26 January: Of Animal and Human Agency: Freedom in Iberian Neo-Scholasticism

Primary Sources:

• Luis de Molina, Disputation 47: On the Source of Contingency’ in On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia, ed. Alfred Freddoso, Ithaca/London, 1988, pp. 85-97.


• Annabel Brett, Changes of State: Nature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law, Princeton, NJ, 2011, chapters 1 and 2, pp. 11-61.


2 February: Man and God: Political and Religious Freedom in Grotius and Arminius

Primary Sources:

• Hugo Grotius, De Iure Praedae Commentarius/Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty, ed. Martine van Ittersum, Indianapolis 2006, Prolegomena, pp. 19-34.

• Jacobus Arminius, ‘‘De Liberis Hominis Arbitrio/On the Free Will of Man and its Powers’, in: Works, vol. 2, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, pp. 189-196.


• Martin van Gelderen: ‘Arminian Trouble: Frictions in the Freedom of Conscience, Will and Religion’, in Quentin Skinner, Martin van Gelderen (eds.), Freedom and the Construction of Europe. New Perspectives on Philosophical, Religious and Political Controversies, Volume 1, Cambridge, 2012, forthcoming.


9 February: Founding Liberal Freedom: Thomas Hobbes

Primary Sources:

• Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), Chapters 14 and 21 (available in many editions).


• Quentin Skinner, Hobbes and Republican Liberty, chapter 5, pp. 124-177.

• Matthew Kramer, ‘Freedom, Unfreedom and Skinner’s Hobbes’¸ The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 9, no. 2, 2001, pp. 204-216.

• David Dyzenhaus, ‘How Hobbes met the ‘Hobbes Challenge’’, The Modern Law Review, vol. 72, no. 3, 2009, pp. 488-506.


16 February: Liberalism and Religion: Reassessing John Locke

Primary Sources:

• John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1689), Second Treatise, chapters 8-10 9, § 95-133 (many editions available).


• Richard Ashcraft, 'The Foundations of Lockean Political Theory' in Richard Ashcraft, Locke's Two Treatises of Government, London, 1987, pp. 35-59.

• Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke, and Equality. Christian Foundations in Locke’s Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge, 2002, pp. 1-20 (introduction).

• Tim Stanton, ‘Authority and Freedom in the Interpretation of Locke’s Political Theory’, Political Theory¸ vol. 39, no. 1, 2011, pp. 6-30.


23 February: The Freedom of the Market: How to read Adam Smith

Primary Sources:

• Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book II, Chapter 3 and Book Iv, Chapter 1 (several editions available; the standard edition has been reprinted by the  Liberty Fund).


• Nicholas Phillipson, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, New Haven/London, 2010, chapters 7 and 11, pp. 138-158 and 214-238.

- Emma Rothschild and Amartya Sen, ‘Adam Smith’s Economics’ in Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, Cambridge, 2006, pp. 319-265.

- Donald Winch, ‘Adam Smith: Scottish Moral Philosopher as Political Economist’, The Historical Journal, vol. 35, no. 1, 1992, pp. 91-113.


1 March: Classical Liberalism: Reading Mill’s On Liberty

Primary Sources:

• John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), Chapters 3 and 4 (many editions available).


• Isaiah Berlin, ‘John Stuart Mill and the ends of Life’ in Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford, 169; reprint 1991), pp. 173-206.

• John Gray, ‘Mill's Liberalism and Liberalism's Posterity’, The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Rights, 2000, pp. 137-165.


8 March: Contemporary Debate: Liberal versus Republican Freedom

• Isaiah Berlin, 'Two Concepts of Liberty' in Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford, 169; reprint 1991), pp. 118-172.

• Quentin Skinner, ‘A Third Concept of Liberty’, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 117, 2002, pp. 237-268.

• Philip Pettit, ‘The Instability of Freedom as Noninterference: The Case of Isaiah Berlin’, Ethics, Vol. 121, No. 4, 2011, pp. 693-716.



Suggestions for Further Reading:

1. Anthologies

• Ian Carter, Matthew Kramer and Hillel Steiner (eds.), Freedom: A Philosophical Anthology, Oxfrod, 2007.

• David Miller (ed.) The Liberty Reader, Edinburgh, 2006.

2. Florence and Freedom: Machiavelli and Republican Freedom

• Gisela Bock, Quentin Skinner, Maurizio Viroli (eds.), Machiavelli and Republicanism, Cambridge, 1990.

• James Hankins (ed.) Renaissance Civic Humanism, Cambridge, 2000.

• John Najemey (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli, Cambrdige, 2010.

• Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, Oxford, 1997.

• J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment. Florentine political thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton, 1975.

• Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of modern political thought. Volume 1: The Renaissance, Cambridge, 1978.

• Quentin Skinner, Liberty before Liberalism, Cambridge, 1998.

• Peter Stacey, Roman Monarchy and the  Renaissance Prince, Cambridge, 2007.

• Maurizio Viroli, From Politics to reason of State. The Acquisition and Transformation of the Language of Politics, 1250 -1600, Cambridge, 1992.

• Maurizio Viroli, Machiavelli, Oxford, 1998.

v David Wootton (ed.), Republicanism, Liberty and Commercial Society, 1649-1776, Stanford, 1994.

3. Of Animal and Human Agency: Freedom in Iberian Neo-Scholasticism

• Annabel Brett, Liberty, Right and Nature: Individual Rights in Later Scholastic Thought, Cambridge, 1997.

• Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man. The American Indian and the ori¬gins of comparative ethnology, rev. ed., Cambridge, 1986.

• Richard Tuck, Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651, Cambridge, 1993.

4. Man and God: Political and Religious Freedom in Grotius and Arminius

• Willem van Asselt, Martin Bac and Roelf te  Velde (eds.), Reformed Thought on Freedom: The Concept of Free Choice in Early Modern Reformed Theology, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2010.

• Annabel Brett, ‘Natural right and Civil Community: the Civil Philosophy of Hugo Grotius’, The Historical Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2002, pp. 31-51.

• Martin van Gelderen, ‘Iustitiam non includo: Carl Schmitt, Hugo Grotius and the Ius Publicum Europaeum’, History of European Ideas, Volume 37, Issue 2, June 2011, pp. 154-159.

• Richard Tuck, Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651, Cambridge, 1993.

5. Founding Liberal Freedom: Thomas Hobbes

• Luc Foisneau and George Wright (eds.) Nuove Prospettive Critiche sul Leviatano di Hobbes/New Critical Perspectives on Hobbes’s Leviathan, Milan, 2004.

• Noel Malcolm, Aspects of Hobbes, Oxford, 2002.

• A.P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography, Cambridge, 1999.

• A.P. Martinich, Hobbes, London, 2005.

• Philip Pettit, Made with Words: Hobbes on Language, Mind and Politics, Princeton, NJ, 2008.

• Quentin Skinner, Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes, Cambridge, 1996.

• Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics. Volume III: Hobbes and Civil Science, Cambridge, 2002.

• Tom Sorell and Luc Foisneau (eds.), Leviathan after 350 Years, Oxford, 2004.

• Tom Sorell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, Cambridge, 1996.

• Richard Tuck, Hobbes, Past Masters, Oxford, 1986.

• Richard Tuck, Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651, Cambridge, 1993.

6. Liberalism and Religion: Reassessing John Locke

• Richard Ashcraft, Revolutionary Politics & Locke's 'Two treatises of Government' (Princeton, 1986).

• Richard Ashcraft, Locke's Two Treatises of Government (London, 1989).

• Hannah Dawson, Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy, Cambridge, 2007.

• John Dunn, Locke, Past Masters (Oxford, 1984).

• John Horton, Susan Mendus (eds), John Locke's Letter on Toleration in Focus (London, 1991).

• Matthew Kramer, John Locke and the Origins of Private Property, Cambridge, 1997.

• John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility, Cambridge, 1994.

• John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture, Cambridge, 2006.

• Tim Stanton, ‘Christian Foundations; or Some Loose Stones? Toleration and the Philosophy of Locke’s Politics’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 3, 2011, pp. 323-347.

• James Tully, An Approach to political philosophy: Locke in Contexts (Cambridge, 1993).

• Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations in Locke’s Political Thought, Cambridge, 2002.

• Lee Ward, John Locke and Modern Life, Cambridge, 2010.

7. The Freedom of the Market: How to read Adam Smith

• Vivienne Brown and Samuel Fleischacker (eds.), The Philosophy of Adam Smith, London, 2010.

• Jerry Evensky, Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy: A Historical and Contemporary Perspective on Markets, Laws, Ethics, and Culture, Cambridge, 2005.

• Samuel Fleischacker, A Third Concept of Liberty: Judgment and Freedom in Kant and Adam Smith, Princeton, NJ, 1999.

• Samuel Fleischacker, On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. A Philosophical Companion, Princeton, 2005.

• Fonna Forman-Barzilai, Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory, Ideas in Context, Cambridge, 2010.

• Knud Haakonssen, The Science of a Legislator. The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume & Adam Smith, Cambridge, 1981.

• Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, Cambridge, 2006.

• Iain McLean, Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian, New York, 2007.

• Leonidas Montes and Eric Schliesser (eds.), New Voices on Adam Smith, New York, 2006.

• D.D. Raphael, The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy, Oxford, 2009.

• John Robertson, The Case for the Enlightenment. Scotland and Naples, 1680-1760, Cambridge, 2005.

• Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments. Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the  Enlightenment, Cambridge, Mass., 2001.

• Donald Winch, Riches and Poverty. An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750-1834, Cambridge, 1996.

8. Classical Liberalism and John Stuart Mill

• J.W. Burrow, Whigs and Liberals: Continuity and Change in English Political Thought. The Carlyle Lectures, 1985 (Oxford, 1988).

• Stefan Collini, Public Moralists. Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930, Oxford, 1991.

• Wendy Donner and Richard Fumerton, Mill, Blackwell Great Minds, Oxford, 2009.

• John Gray, G.W. Smith (eds.), J.S. Mill's On Liberty in Focus, London, 1991.

• Alan S. Kahan, Aristocratic Liberalism - The Social and Political thought of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqeuville (Oxford, 1992).

• Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought, Chicago, 1999.

• Sankar  Muthu, Enlightenment against Empire, Princeton, 2003.

• Jennifer Pitts, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France, Princeton, 2006.

• Alan Ryan, The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Basingstoke, 1998.

• Larry Siedentop, 'Two Liberal Traditions' in Alan Ryan (ed.), The Idea of Freedom. Essays in Honour of Isaiah Berlin (Oxford, 1979), pp. 153-174.

• William Thomas, Mill, Past Masters, Oxford, 1985.

• Georgios Varouxakis and Paul Kelly (eds.), John Stuart Mill - Thought and Influence, Routledge Innovations in Political Theory, London, 2010.

9. Contemporary Debate: Liberal versus Republican Freedom

• Richard Bellamy, Political Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy, Cambridge, 2007.

• Ian Carter, A Measure of Freedom, Oxford, 1999.

• Iseult Honohan¸ Civic Republicanism, London, 2002.

• Cécile Laborde and John Maynor (eds.), Republicanism and Political Theory, Oxford, 2008.

• Matthew Kramer, The Quality of Freedom, Oxford, 2008.

• John Maynor, Republicanism in the Modern World, Cambridge, 2003.

• Alan Patten, ‘The Republican Critique of Liberalism’, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 26, no. 1, 1996, pp. 25-44.

• Philipp Pettit, A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency, Oxford, 2001.




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