In this Book

summary

A dramatic shift in British and French ideas about empire unfolded in the sixty years straddling the turn of the nineteenth century. As Jennifer Pitts shows in A Turn to Empire, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Jeremy Bentham were among many at the start of this period to criticize European empires as unjust as well as politically and economically disastrous for the conquering nations. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the most prominent British and French liberal thinkers, including John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, vigorously supported the conquest of non-European peoples. Pitts explains that this reflected a rise in civilizational self-confidence, as theories of human progress became more triumphalist, less nuanced, and less tolerant of cultural difference. At the same time, imperial expansion abroad came to be seen as a political project that might assist the emergence of stable liberal democracies within Europe.

Pitts shows that liberal thinkers usually celebrated for respecting not only human equality and liberty but also pluralism supported an inegalitarian and decidedly nonhumanitarian international politics. Yet such moments represent not a necessary feature of liberal thought but a striking departure from views shared by precisely those late-eighteenth-century thinkers whom Mill and Tocqueville saw as their forebears.

Fluently written, A Turn to Empire offers a novel assessment of modern political thought and international justice, and an illuminating perspective on continuing debates over empire, intervention, and liberal political commitments.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xiii-xv
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  1. 1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. Part 1: Critics of Empire
  2. pp. 23-24
  1. 2. Adam Smith on Societal Development and Colonial Rule
  2. pp. 25-58
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  1. 3. Edmund Burke’s Peculiar Universalism
  2. pp. 59-100
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  1. Part 2. Utilitarians and the Turn to Empire in Britain
  2. pp. 101-102
  1. 4. Jeremy Bentham: Legislator of the World?
  2. pp. 103-122
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  1. 5. James and John Stuart Mill: The Development of Imperial Liberalism in Britain
  2. pp. 123-162
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  1. Part 3. Liberals and the Turn to Empire in France
  2. pp. 163-164
  1. 6. The Liberal Volte-Face in France
  2. pp. 165-203
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  1. 7. Tocqueville and the Algeria Question
  2. pp. 204-239
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  1. 8. Conclusion
  2. pp. 240-258
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 259-342
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 343-362
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 363-382
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400826636
Related ISBN
9780691127910
MARC Record
OCLC
437267944
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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