Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

The idea of equality in English political thought

Parekh, B. C. (1966) The idea of equality in English political thought. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (56MB)


An attempt is made here to examine the analysis three political thinkers - Thomas Paine, William Godwin, and Jeremy Bentham have offered of the idea of equality. The inquiry underrtaken is philosophical and not historical in character, since no attempt is made either at tracing the influence ht the biographical-cum-intellectual level of one of them upon the other or at treating their ideas on equality as born out of their preoccupation with the same problem to which they give various answers and which can therefore be considered within a single overall framework. Instead , each thinker is considered independently. And a study is undertaken of the way he understands equality, the way he justifies it, the sort of equality he considers most important and his reasons for this, the area of life he takes the idea of equality to illuminate , the manner in which he relates it to other ideas, etc.. In each case, a fairly coherent philosophy of equality is sought to be constructed out of their respective writings. These three thinkers are selected for two reasons. The idea of equality looms quite large in their thought; as such, it was felt that looking at their writings from the standpoint of equality may illuminate their certain features that may otherwise remain obscure or relatively underemphasized. Further, as they consider equality from different philosophical positions it was believed that a critical examination of their writings could, perhaps, point to the general merits and limitations of their respective positions in terms of equality. in chapter I, it is argued that there are distinct views of God discernible in Paine's writings, and that corresponding to them are three distinct views of equality, though only two of them are discussed by Paine at any length. in chapter II, it is argued that, though Godwin begins as a thoroughgoing rationalist, three are shifts in his general philosophical position, and that, with each shift, his ideas on truth, rationality and equality undergo important changes. Finally, in chapter III, it is argued that there are two distinct theories of equality in Bentham and that tension between them remains unresolved.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1966 B.C. Parekh
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics