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Ideas of contract in English political thought 1679-1704

Thompson, Martyn (1974) Ideas of contract in English political thought 1679-1704. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis examines what Englishmen meant when they referred to a 'contract' in political discussions around the time of the 1688 Revolution. The study of the immense volume and considerable variety of writings referring to 'contract' reveals that our histories of late seventeenth century political thought, and of Contract Theory in particular, have misrepresented the meaning of the ideas. It appears that there was no single Contract Theory and that appeal to 'contract' was not the monopoly of one particular group, party or side in the political controversies of the period. If we concentrate on what the term 'contract' was used to denote in political writing, we are confronted by a near hopeless confusion. Ifs however, we look to the connotations of the term and the coherence of arguments invoking a 'contract', a very clear, distinctive and significant division of contractarian writing emerges. I have argued that there are in fact three different types of Contract Theory exhibited in the political literature of the periods 'Constitutional', 'Philosophical' and 'Integrated' Contract Theories. My study portrays the characteristics of each of these theories, considers their distinctiveness and interrolations, and attempts to present a more adequate understanding of what 'contract' meant to men In late seventeenth and early eighteenth century England than historians have no far given.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1974 Martyn P. Thompson
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economics

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