A.R. Lord and Later Idealist Political Philosophy


If T.H. Greenís Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation can be described as the primary text in political philosophy of the first generation of the British Idealist tradition, and Bernard Bosanquetís The Philosophical Theory of the State (1899) as the principal text of the second generation, then The Principles of Politics (1921) Ė by the English-South African philosopher, A.R. Lord (1880-1941) Ė may be said to be the most substantial text of the third generation.

†††††††††††††† Lordís political theory is clearly in line with that of Green and Bosanquet. It explores several of the same themes and Lordís writings were aimed at a largely non-specialist audience. Yet Lordís work in political philosophy is particularly interesting, since it covers a period from just prior to the first world war to the beginning of the second world war.

†††††††††††††† As a whole, however, Lordís philosophical and political views are little known; most of what he wrote is only just being published.

In this paper, I want to introduce Lordís political philosophy Ė particularly as it concerns two topics on which his contribution differs significantly from those of his predecessors: democracy and freedom. This will also serve to indicate some of the important ways in which an idealist political philosophy responded to the wide range of political and economic crises of the early 20th century.