Making use of previously unpublished variants for Godwin's work contained among the Abinger Papers in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, this essay examines the necessity for a genetic edition of William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. These previously unknown variants record how Godwin develops his political philosophy in the process of writing. Challenging Godwin's own belief in the pre-linguistic nature of philosophical ideas, the essay uses Godwin's compositional practice to support a model of philosophy-as-text. This model raises the status of manuscript variants and recommends that they should not be swept away from the text. The essay concludes with a sample genetic edition containing the unpublished variants for Political Justice from the Abinger Papers.