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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys some of the main themes of Michael Oakeshott’s On Human Conduct (1975). Despite Oakeshott’s reputation as a conservative thinker, an examination of his theory of civil association reveals how extensively the book anticipated subsequent developments in contemporary liberal political philosophy. On Human Conduct offers many insights into questions of liberal neutrality, civility, agonistic pluralism, and radical individuality that have come to dominate the writings of leading contemporary exponents of liberalism. Notwithstanding these enduring influences, however, the book proves much less helpful in clarifying thorny questions about the distribution of membership in bounded political communities.

Keywords: conservatism, liberalism, civil association, enterprise association, agonistic pluralism, civility, radical individuality, public reason, political membership

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