Bosanquet and Bradley: some recent discussions

originally published in Bradley Studies, Vol.  6 (2000): 63-91.
Please cite this source if you wish to quote or refer to this paper.

William Sweet
St Francis Xavier University

In his 1983 book on Bradley's Logic, Anthony Manser remarks that "[i]t has been suggested that there was, at the end of the nineteenth century, a great English philosopher named 'Bradley-Bosanquet'."(1) Manser was, of course, just repeating the view of J.S. MacKenzie who wrote, in his 1927 review of the second edition of Bradley's Ethical Studies, that "Bradley and Bosanquet have almost to be regarded as one person [...] Neither is readily intelligible without the other."(2) And it is fairly well known (at least to the audience of this journal) that Bosanquet himself sometimes wrote that his and Bradley's respective views were quite close--that "there is never [...] any more than a verbal difference or difference of emphasis, between us."(3) So, despite the recognition in Bosanquet's own time that he had a distinctive and powerful voice on philosophical topics,(4) the impression created by the preceding remarks--that Bosanquet does not really offer a distinctive position from Bradley--has been long held, and it is no doubt partly responsible for the consequence that, until fairly recently, philosophical interest in Bosanquet's work has taken, at best, second place to that of Bradley.(5)

In a number of recent studies, I have argued that the relation between the two is much more complicated than the previous comments suggest.(6) Bosanquet and Bradley can be distinguished not only in matters related to logic,(7) but also in metaphysics,(8) politics,(9) ethical theory, 'applied ethics' (e.g., punishment and social policy),(10) and religion.(11) In subsequent discussions, however, a number of questions have arisen. Principal among these questions are those of how different the views of Bosanquet and Bradley are, what might account for those differences alleged to exist between them, and what we might conclude about the plausibility of their respective views. And these questions have led to yet others--particularly about the relation of Bosanquet's views to those of other contemporaries and predecessors in the idealist tradition.

In this discussion piece, I want to address briefly the first two--and, to an extent, the last--of these questions. Specifically, I want to review some of the discussion and responses to my views on two issues on which both Bradley and Bosanquet had something important to say in print--the nature of punishment and the notion of rights. In addressing this discussion of my work, I will draw on, but also expand, some arguments I have given earlier. This will, I think, lay some groundwork for a more extensive historical and philosophical analysis of the context and legacy of Bosanquet's work.


There is no denying that Bosanquet and Bradley are, broadly speaking, representative of the same philosophical tradition. They were products of the same period of intellectual ferment in Oxford in the mid nineteenth century, they were both students of T.H. Green, and their work is marked by the then-recent introduction of Hegel's and Kant's philosophy into England. Both were implacably opposed to the still-influential empiricist, individualist, and associationist views of Alexander Bain, David Hartley, and J.S. Mill, both responded with a logic and a metaphysics that came to be described as 'absolute idealism,' and both sought to avoid what they saw was the less thoroughgoing metaphysics of the personal idealists (e.g., Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, James Ward, J.M.E. McTaggart, W.R. Sorley, and Hastings Rashdall).

Still, such similarities as these are not, I have argued, sufficient to establish that their positive views are the same.

Perhaps the first and most obvious difference between Bosanquet and Bradley is in their logic. This is the topic on which most commentators do admit a distinction between them, and it is the one on which Bosanquet and Bradley at least initially disagreed.(12) Several points of difference have been noted by Manser(13) and by Phillip Ferreira(14) concerning, for example, the relation of logic and metaphysics, negation and the doctrine of 'floating ideas,'(15) the account of feeling in knowledge,(16) and Bradley's alleged sympathies with some aspects of the logics of Sigwart and Lotze.(17) And, in fact, the differences may even be greater than either Bosanquet or Bradley recognised, if Stewart Candlish is right about Bradley not holding a coherence theory,(18) since there is some evidence to believe that Bosanquet did. Still, it is difficult to say exactly how far these differences go. Later in life, Bosanquet seems to have admitted that his early criticisms of Bradley may have been too strong.(19) In any event, I cannot discuss this in any detail here; an adequate treatment of their respective logics would require a much lengthier study than present circumstances permit.

But there are other differences to be noted between Bosanquet and Bradley. Some are to be found, I have argued,(20) in their ethics--both theoretical and applied.

Now these differences were, until fairly recently, not generally recognised. Part of the reason for this, I would suggest, is that Bradley's views on ethics have frequently been misunderstood. Bradley's ethical theory is often held (by those who have read little of his work) to be pretty much that represented in Essay V of Ethical Studies--that of 'my station and its duties'--and his politics have also been seen as rather conservative.(21) Bosanquet's views on politics and social policy have received a similar assessment,(22) and it might seem plausible that his underlying views would be close to Bradley as well. But commentators such as Peter Nicholson, Charles Le Chevalier, and Richard Wollheim(23) among others, have reminded us that Bradley's considered ethical view is not that presented in Essay V, but is to be found later in Ethical Studies. And this leads to the question that, if Bradley's views are different from what they are often held to be, where exactly does Bosanquet stand in relation to them?

So how different are the views of Bosanquet and Bradley? Some answer to this question will be provided if we look at what they have to say on the two issues indicated above--issues which I have discussed elsewhere, but on which both Bradley and Bosanquet wrote--the nature of punishment and the notion of rights. And this will, in turn, allow me to make some more general remarks on the relation between them.


While there are a number of similarities in Bosanquet's and Bradley's respective discussions of punishment, a close reading suggests that there is also a significant difference between them. In "'Absolute Idealism' and Finite Individuality,"(24) I noted that Bosanquet holds a basically retributive view of punishment--that, like Kant,(25) he believed that punishment involved the recognition of a "personal bad will"(26) and that the aim of the infliction of punishment is, in part, an attempt to 'undo' (SS 191) the act and ensure that the bad will "shall not fail to apprehend the integrity of the annulling act" (SS 193). For Bosanquet, punishment implies a recognition of offenders as beings whose (guilty) will cannot be ignored. Drawing on ideas characteristic of the Kantian notion of the value of the autonomous will,(27) Bosanquet argues that punishment must show a respect for the individual, and that this requires a fundamental retributive element in punishment.

While there are traces of an element of retributivism in Bradley, his own position on punishment is (despite his own remarks to the contrary) rather 'utilitarian.'(28) Bradley explicitly rejects all three of the classical justifications of punishment--retribution, deterrence, and reformation--and argues that the treatment of individuals should instead be subject to a Darwinian "principle of social surgery" (CE 152, see 164), where the community has the duty and right to treat its members in accord with its own welfare (CE 158).

We have here, I argued, not only some evidence that Bosanquet has a different view of punishment from Bradley, but corroboration of the claim that he has a distinct perspective on the value of the human person. By itself, of course, this difference in their views of punishment is not sufficient to establish that they hold distinctive metaphysical views. Nevertheless, if one has reason to believe that Bosanquet and Bradley do have a different understanding of the nature and value of the human individual, it seems reasonable to expect that they would also have distinct perspectives on punishment.

Now some might be sceptical here. Peter Nicholson,(29) for example, has suggested to me that it is not clear whether Bradley's view of punishment is as distinct from Bosanquet's as I propose. Both Bosanquet and Bradley would see a lex talionis as unacceptable, and both deny that punishment can be based on immorality or moral guilt.(30) Moreover, even if Bradley and Bosanquet did have distinctive views on punishment, it's not obvious that this has any bearing on any putative metaphysical disagreement between them. As Nicholson writes, for Bradley, "moral and political philosophy [...] cannot offer particular moral and political prescriptions,"(31) and, by extension, one cannot make any kind of inference from the latter to the former. And besides, even if Bradley's analysis of punishment indicates an elevation of the moral organism over the individual, there is no basis for this in his metaphysical work. So Bradley could, at least in principle, move to Bosanquet's position without changing his metaphysics.

Now, it is important to be clear about Bosanquet's 'retributivism.' Bosanquet is clearly sympathetic to a retributivist basis for punishment. As he notes in the Introduction to the second edition of The Philosophical Theory of the State(32):

However much we may ameliorate the operations of criminal law, yet definitely to check the definite bad will as such, by a reaction expressly directed against it, that is, by punishment for punishment's sake, will always be a civic necessity. (PTS 45)

It does not follow from this, of course, that punishment is based on, or graded according to, the level of moral guilt. With Bradley, Bosanquet acknowledges that neither the state nor any of the rest of us can have a complete estimation of the degree of someone's moral guilt.

Nevertheless, it does seem clear that, for Bosanquet, punishment does depend on (at least the possibility of) ascribing moral guilt(33)--and this may have been a position that Bradley was initially sympathetic to himself.(34) For Bosanquet, one cannot claim the rights of moral innocence unless one can be morally guilty as well (PTS 208), and to deny the possibility of moral guilt is to deny the possibility of responsibility. So while Bosanquet affirms that a "sound social theory must uphold" the view that (personal) "immorality or irreligion as such" are not the proper concerns of punishment (PTS 94; 212), he holds that one punishes a person because of that person's intention or negligence in acting.

Punishment is the response to an act of a bad will--i.e., to an action against the common good that has been carried out by one who can be held morally responsible for it. One does not punish those who are not morally responsible. But while the basis for punishment is retributivist, the way in which, or the extent to which one is punished is, for Bosanquet, influenced by other features. Punishment has a properly preventive element--"That which is to be prevented by punishment is a violation of the State-maintained system of rights by a person who is a party to that system" (PTS 212). And punishment has a reformatory character as well. Bosanquet says that "the aim of punishment is to make the offender good" (PTS 207).

Yet Bosanquet objects to a purely preventive or purely reformatory theory. He talks about the importance of treating the person 'justly' in punishment--e.g., stating that the reformation theory is unjust and ignores the "'reversionary rights' of humanity" (PTS 207). And he categorically rejects as "an insult" any theory that holds that "may freely be done" to those beings "incapable of guilt"--e.g., the insane and the mentally handicapped--that "which is kindest for them and safest for society, from quasi-medical treatment to extirpation" (PTS 208) And this, I would suggest, puts Bosanquet at some distance from Bradley's view that "justice is a subordinate principle, and that to remove the innocent is unjust but not in all cases wrong",(35) and that "over its members the right of the moral organism is absolute. Its duty and its right is to dispose of these members as seems to it best" (CE 158).

To reiterate, Bosanquet concludes that punishment has a retributive basis but that, when it comes to the nature and extent of that punishment, reformation and prevention are properly involved. Thus, on his account, "[t]he three main aspects of punishment [...] are really inseparable".(36)

The difference between Bosanquet and Bradley on punishment comes into sharper focus if we look at their views in light of those of their most important predecessor in the British idealist tradition--their teacher at Oxford, T.H. Green.(37) How do two students of Green come to such different views of punishment?

When we look at some of Green's remarks on punishment, it seems as if Bradley's view is rather close to them. Green, in lecturing on Hegel, writes that "you can have [...] even punishment and crime without morality",(38) and this would seem to be quite consistent with Bradley's breaking the connexion between punishment and guilt (CE 153), and his comment that where the good of the whole may call for moral surgery, mere innocence is certainly no exemption or safeguard. We may doubt if such cutting off without crime can fairly be called punishment, but, the thing being justified, I will not pause to consider the name. (CE 155) Again, in the Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, Green raises a number of problems with retributivism--problems that Bradley raises as well. For example, Green thinks it impossible to calculate the amount of suffering caused by a crime and the amount of punishment that would 'fit' it (LPPO §188, §§190-191; see Bradley, CE 154). And Green also writes that the infliction of punishment should not be taken as implying that that punishment fits the moral culpability of the agent. He says:

there is no direct reference in punishment by the state [...] to moral good or evil. The state in its judicial action does not look to the moral guilt of the criminal whom it punishes, or to the promotion of moral good by means of his punishment in him or in others. (LPPO §204)
Finally, while acknowledging that there is a social "indignation [that] is inseparable from the interest in the social well-being," Green quickly rejects any form of retributivism that might carry with it a trace of private vengeance (LPPO §178) or a motive of revenge. He argues that the object of punishment of crime is not vengeance. It is, rather, "preventive in its object [...--] justly preventive of injustice" (LPPO §204). And he adds that, "in order effectually to attain its preventive object and to attain it justly, it should be reformatory." This important reformatory character is "an incident of its preventive function" (LPPO §204).

But while Bradley follows Green on several points, he goes beyond Green's view in many other respects. Consider, for example, Green's account of the underlying theory of punishment. Bradley says that while the three justifications (i.e., retribution, reformation, and deterrence) retain "we may rather presume, a certain value", they must be superseded (as we have seen) by "the principle of social surgery" (CE 152). Green, however, says that, in answer to the question "whether punishment according to its proper nature is retributive or preventive or reformatory [... the] true answer is that it is and should be all three" (LPPO §178). Moreover, while Green rejects any form of retributivism that might carry with it a trace of private vengeance (LPPO §178), this does not mean that there is no room for retribution. The aim of punishment is "the maintenance of rights" (LPPO §185). Punishment implies that the person punished has engaged in "an actual violation of a right or omission to fulfil an obligation" (LPPO §185), and it is important that, as far as possible, "[he] sees that the punishment is his own act returning on himself" (LPPO §186). Punishment must be justified and it must be just. As Green notes, punishment is "not justified unless it is just and it is not just unless the act punished is an intentional violation of real right or neglect of real obligation" (LPPO §186). The focus on intent and will is central here, as Green himself makes clear in denying that one can, strictly speaking, 'punish' a dog for bad conduct (see LPPO §187; see also §185).

There are other, related, conditions for punishment. Green would reject the view that we might rightly punish the innocent. Even the criminal has rights, founded "on the capacity [of the criminal] for contributing to social good." That social good is also an individual good, for it is, for Green, one which expresses the "the world consciousness of which ours is a limited mode"(39), and which is manifest only in individual minds. While the criminal may be "put out of the way" when "this capacity [for this good] was absolutely extinct" (LPPO §204), Green also suggests that such cases would be virtually non-existent (LPPO §205). Punishment must be just, and to fail to take seriously the will of the offender in punishment would not be just (LPPO §206). Consequently, even though punishment is determined by and aims at a common good--"the maintenance of rights,"or the "liberties of action or acquisition which there is [...] real public interest in maintaining" (LPPO §285)--that common good requires not only the contribution of the individual, but a recognition of its value.

Bradley's views on punishment, then, clearly go beyond those expressed by Green. Justice is not a key factor in punishment, and the welfare of the community simpliciter, rather than the pursuit of a social good that is intimately tied to the improvement of the individual, seems to be the underlying motif. Bosanquet, however, follows Green as a general rule, drawing on some of the same examples, refining some of Green's points, and remaining faithful to Green's basic principles.

For example, Bosanquet and Green alike hold not only that punishment must always aim at protecting a common good--'the maintenance of rights'--but that punishment follows on the violation of rights (LPPO §177). Green's remark that the "proper and direct object of state-punishment [is...] the general protection of rights" (LPPO §204) is echoed by Bosanquet (PTS 205, 206, 213ff).

Or consider Bosanquet's views on how the state is to treat the criminal. Bosanquet notes that it must recognise him as "a sharer in a capacity for a common good" (PTS 200). And this is clearly much the view of Green; according to Green, the person punished must always be regarded as having "a capacity for determination by a conception of a common or public good" (LPPO §185).

A consequence of this capacity to participate in a common good is, as we have seen, that Green talks about the reversionary rights of the criminal (at least in circumstances where the punishment is not 'necessary' from a preventive or rehabilitative perspective) as a limit on punishment. And Bosanquet agrees, employing Green's very expression:

It is true, however, that the offender, as a human being, and presumably capable of a common good, has, as Green puts it, "reversionary rights" of humanity, and these punishment must so far as possible respect. (PTS 207)
For Bosanquet as well as Green, the criminal has rights, founded on something about the nature of the human person--namely, its capacity for contributing to social good and as being a recognised member of the moral community.

A further point of similarity between Bosanquet and Green is in how each sees the nature and mechanics of punishment. For Bosanquet, compulsion through punishment--or, at least, the fear of it--"tends to a recognition of the end by the person punished, and may so far be regarded as his own will, implied in the maintenance of a system ["a system of rights"] to which he is a party, returning upon himself in the form of pain" (PTS 211). And it is just this that Green saw as part of the mechanics of punishment as well--that it is important that the criminal "sees that the punishment is his own act returning on himself, in the sense that it is the necessary outcome of his act in a society governed by the conception of rights--a conception which he appreciates and to which he does involuntary reverence" (LPPO §186).

It is clear, then, that Bosanquet follows Green's account. Still, he tries to address some issues which Green introduces but leaves unresolved. Green notes, for example, instances where a person commits an offense in a situation of duress--his example is that of the man who steals to feed his starving family. Green suggests that in such cases the extent of punishment--and perhaps even whether there need be punishment at all--should be a matter of judicial discretion. He allows that a judge need not punish in such cases, but also may punish more severely, as a general prevention (though in this latter case, such a response would be rare and 'one sided' [see LPPO §194; see also §183]). Bosanquet, however, proposes that a solution here might better be not one of deciding whether or not to punish an offense, but of interpreting the act as not an offense against the law, but as belonging to another class of action (PTS 214). Another solution might be "some readjustment of rights, or at least some temporary protection of the right to live [...] and not, or not solely, increased severity in dealing with theft" (PTS 215). And, as we shall see below, Bosanquet attempts to address other lacunae in Green's account as well, while remaining all the while close to Green's views.

In short, there is a clear difference between Bosanquet and Bradley on the issue of punishment and, even though Bosanquet's views came some time after Bradley's, it is Green and not Bradley who Bosanquet follows. For Bradley, moral responsibility is not necessarily relevant to punishment, nor is there a restriction of punishment to crime (CE 153). There is an unrestricted right of the moral supremacy of the community over its members (CE 152), and the purpose of punishment is simply to promote the well being of the community. For Bosanquet and Green moral responsibility is necessary, and that, while the purpose of punishment is a common good--the maintenance of rights--it is important that it also attempt to bring criminals to consciousness of their actions. Thus, in maintaining the importance of the criminal's coming to awareness of his crime and of holding him to account for it, Bosanquet's view retains a retributivist element missing from Bradley.(40) (There are also, as I will argue in a moment, 'deeper' differences between Bradley and Bosanquet, that comparison with Green puts into sharper focus.) Finally, both Bosanquet and Green would resist Bradley's 'principle of social surgery.'(41)

Do these differences between Bosanquet and Bradley suggest anything more than a difference in empirical strategy--on how, when, and to whom punishment should be applied? Bradley writes that he is not concerned with practical matters--or, at least, he thinks that his political philosophy doesn't require any specific practical policy--and Bosanquet also distinguishes theory and practice.(42) Is there any reason in principle why Bradley could not move to Bosanquet's position on punishment, without a change in his metaphysics?

I would say that, despite the claim that there is a distinction between philosophy and practice, it would be odd if we found Bradley adopting a 'Green-Bosanquet' view. What is at issue here is not just the theoretical claim that the 'moral organism' represented in the state is greater than its individual members and how far that would bear on practice--for, in any event, Bosanquet would be sympathetic to a view that held that the moral organism or society is more real (or has a higher degree of appearance). The issue is, rather, what these individual members count for. When it comes to Bradley's metaphysics, it seems that the human individual has little status at all. So it would be odd for Bradley to adopt a view (as in Bosanquet) where human individuals have a high or central place in practical matters if, 'metaphysically,' they were not very significant at all.(43) And while it is true that both Bosanquet and Bradley note the gap between philosophical theory and practical policy, it doesn't follow (for example) that that theory does not at least incline one towards one set of practices rather than another. Philosophical theory may not determine practical policy, but this is surely because practical policy must take account of a variety of empirical issues which theory, by itself, cannot. Theory can no more provide by itself a statement of how one ought to act in a particular situation than a law of physics can, by itself, state whether and in what specific way, a particular event will occur. But this does not mean that there is no relation of theory to practice. Indeed, there is at least a prima facie case for thinking that, in Bradley, the conception of morality reflects or rests on metaphysics; Bradley, for example, comments that he "sees that ethical theories rest in the end on preconceptions metaphysical and psychological."(44)

Still, even if Bradley could make a move to Bosanquet's ethical or political philosophy, I would suggest that Bosanquet could not make the move to Bradley's position. There are two reasons for this--first, it would be inconsistent with Bosanquet's account of rights and, second, it would be inconsistent with (what I have elsewhere called) Bosanquet's social ontology. Some comments on this will show further differences between Bosanquet and Bradley as well.


Bosanquet's views on punishment are importantly influenced by his theory of rights, but his account of rights is one that has been the subject of some discussion. A fairly comprehensive study of Bosanquet's rights theory has been provided in Idealism and Rights, but several questions have since been raised about Bosanquet's account. Some concern how this account--along with Bosanquet's views on punishment--fit with seeing Bosanquet as an absolute idealist.(45) Some are concerned with the relation of Bosanquet's views to those of his interlocutors--those to whom Bosanquet was responding in his political and ethical thought.(46) Some raise the question of the place of rights within Bosanquet's philosophy as a whole.(47) Some concern the specific kinds of rights that Bosanquet would allow--particularly as compared to the views of Bradley and Green.(48) Some involve how Bosanquet's political thought relates to that of his contemporaries as well as to some more recent discussions, such as those of David Miller and Joseph Raz.(49) And some, as I have said, concern aspects of the 'social ontology'--particularly the notions of the common good and of recognition--that underlies Bosanquet's account of rights.

Clearly these questions cannot be discussed at any length here. Nevertheless, in looking at the roots of Bosanquet's views on punishment within his theory of rights, an indication of an answer to some of these questions can be given.

To begin with, it is worth noting that Bosanquet's initial discussion of punishment immediately follows his analysis of rights in Chapter VIII of The Philosophical Theory of the State. There is a similar close connection in Green; in Green, the discussion of punishment in the Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation occurs within the context of the discussion of "the right to punish" (§§176-206). In Bradley, this is not the case at all. In Ethical Studies, his 'negative' discussion of punishment appears some time before his remarks on rights, and in his essay "Some Remarks on Punishment," he is rather dismissive of the relevance of questions of rights (CE 157-158). His positive views on rights are almost entirely contained in the famous appendix (on 'Rights and Duties') to Essay V ('My Station and Its Duties') of Ethical Studies, and it is certainly not an example of his prose at its best.

Now, what is Bradley's view? In general, for Bradley rights are claims on others to do or to refrain from doing something in light of some general principle. A right is "the expression of law" (ES 207); more precisely, the relation of law to right is "the relation of the [moral] universal to the particular" (ES 207; see also n. 1). Thus, a right describes something about the relation of one (who is capable of consciously realizing the moral universal) to that universal. To have a right, then, implies the existence of "the moral world" (ES 213).

Where the moral universal is represented in "the will of the ideal-social or non-social ideal," we have "ideal rights" (ES 208) or what Bradley later calls "moral" rights (ES 210)--right that is "merely thought of" (ES 212). Bradley also refers to "real" rights--the kind of right which 'actually exists' (ES 213)--where the moral universal is represented in "the will of the state or society"; these are what Bradley calls 'legal rights'. These are the sorts of rights one has in a situation where one has a function or 'station' and corresponding 'duties.'

Legal rights are limited in two senses. First, they are subject to change and revision in light of a 'good'; "no existing social organism secures to its individuals any more than an imperfect good",(50) and so, as that 'good' becomes more (or less) perfect in a state or society, the rights correlative to it will change. Second, legal rights must have a moral character. If the will of society or the state does not represent the moral universal--i.e., if it is not moral--Bradley says that there is no right (ES 209).

In Bradley's discussion of rights we do not have any clear statement of whether rights must be 'recognised,' by whom or by what they might be recognised, to whom or to what they are specifically ascribed, or how precisely the ascription of rights takes place. Bradley does tell us that rights imply "the consciousness (or presumed capacity for consciousness) of the relation of [one's] will to the universal as the right" (ES 208), and he notes that the moral universal is one that demands self realization (see ES 224)--"free individual self-development" (ES 210). But still this leaves the mechanism of the recognition of rights unstated, and it is unclear what the status is of "ideal rights"--i.e., those rights which are "merely thought of." There is another puzzle about Bradley's discussion of rights as well. Since this discussion of rights is an appendix to Bradley's exposition of a 'Hegelian' moral view and, since Bradley's own view does go beyond this, it is not obvious how much of this view of rights he would ultimately adhere to. On the one hand, after acknowledging that 'my station' is not a 'wholly tenable' point of view (ES 190), Bradley still says "[t]here is nothing better than my station and its duties, nor anything higher or more truly beautiful" (ES 201). But, on the other hand, one suspects that 'ideal rights" must have some significance for moral philosophy. Perhaps they have a place in a system of ideal morality that they do not have at the level of 'my station.'

Some things are clear, however. First, society or the state can have rights, just as individual human beings can have rights. And in cases like conscription, the right of society trumps. Public right takes priority over "mere private right" (ES 212). And because rights imply at least a capacity for consciousness of the relation of one's will to a common good, we can understand Bradley's explicit position on the rights of animals. Because animals are incapable of such a level of consciousness, there are, therefore, no animal rights (see ES 208; cf 31, n. 2).

Now, though Bosanquet's explicit discussion of rights is only slightly lengthier than Bradley's, it is more thorough and systematic. In fact, Bosanquet's view of rights, while certainly not foundational, provides a useful point of entry into his political philosophy--particularly in relation to those of his principal predecessors. According to Bosanquet, rights are "claims, recognized by the State, i.e., by Society acting as ultimate authority, to the maintenance of conditions favourable to the best life" (PTS 193). Thus, a right must have both legal weight and be morally binding.

Like Bradley, Bosanquet saw rights as ascribable only to that which had some relation--a conscious relation--to a common good. Rights require the existence of a common good, or some kind of moral universal. And, further, Bosanquet held that rights are related to positions or stations that are defined in terms of such a good, and he draws on Bradley's locution of 'my station and its duties'(51) in explaining this (though the principle underlying this expression long antedated them both(52)). Principally, rights are the powers or means required by a person who has a position within a social order to work towards the realization of this common good.

Now interestingly, not only does Bosanquet define rights in terms of one's station and its duties, but he seems to have stayed with the morality or the practical ethics of 'my station,' whereas Bradley (as noted above) does not. And Bosanquet also draws on this morality in order to explain how and why and by whom rights must be recognised. Rights are ascribed to positions or functions of individuals that are recognised by the state (a matter which led him into almost endless debate, even with those who were otherwise sympathetic to some of his liberal views)--though in providing the details of how this recognition takes place is something that required Bosanquet to discuss a number of issues in psychology and in metaphysics. There is, however, no place for anything like 'ideal rights.'

Throughout his discussion of rights, Bosanquet shows a consistent concern for the individual and the individual's role in relation to the common good. For example, in doing our duty, or on acting on our rights, he says that we make ourselves more human--"we take hold of our humanity and bring it home to our particular selves."(53) And while rights are ascribed to functions rather than 'atomic' human subjects, being a person seems to be, itself, a function; Bosanquet writes: "our station is, above all things, to be men."(54) Again, that common or social good to be achieved is described by Bosanquet as "the existence and perfection of human personality" (PTS 189). And it is in his elaboration of his account of rights that Bosanquet discusses how one might respond to an inadequate social morality--that we may sometimes even have a duty to rebel against the structure of a state that did not reflect the common good to any significant degree.(55)

How does Bosanquet's account of rights lead him (as I have suggested) to a different view of punishment than that found in Bradley? Does Bosanquet's rights theory actually differ from Bradley's? To answer these questions, it is again useful to take a moment and look at how their rights theories compare with that which we find in Green.

In the Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, Green defines a 'right' as "the negative realisation of" "the power of the individual freely to make a common good his own" (LPPO §25). He says that they have "no being except in a society of men recognising each other" (LPPO §139) and that they are tied to life in society "in which each has a function to fulfil" (LPPO §154). We see here the central features of rights as involving a common good, as requiring recognition, and of this common good and this recognition as being related to one's 'function.'

Green notes that "the foundation for all true theory of 'rights'" can be found as far back as Plato and Aristotle. This is the origin of "the [true] doctrine of 'natural rights'" (LPPO §39), i.e., that of "a system of rights [...] which should be maintained by law [...] and which may properly be called 'natural'" (LPPO §9). A right, on this account, is "a claim [...] arising out of [a person's] rational nature" (LPPO §139, see §150). Clearly, rights require self-consciousness--as Green writes, a "consciousness of myself and of ends which I present to myself as mine" (LPPO §114), and this underlies Green's acknowledgement of a right to "free life" for all those who are capable of "free action contributory to social good" (LPPO §176). This common good is a reflection of what Green calls, in the Prolegomena to Ethics, the 'eternal self-consciousness' that exists and is made explicit through individual human minds.(56)

So, while Green says that "rights are made by [social] recognition" (LPPO §136), he holds (as Nicholson points out) that "men's status as rights-holders [rests] upon their moral personality, not upon their social functions"(57) (see LPPO §30). Green acknowledges that some rights "existed when there was as yet no state" (LPPO §141), and refers to "implicit" rights (LPPO §144) "which remain rights though any particular state or all states refuse to recognise them" (LPPO §141). In short, some rights--these 'natural' or 'implicit' rights--do not need to be recognized in law. Thus, Green acknowledges that there is a distinction between these rights and legal rights (see LPPO §§138-141)(58).

There are a number of points that might be noted here. For present purposes, what I want to underline are Green's claims, that rights require a common good and recognition, that this recognition is something ontological and not (simply) epistemological,(59) and that the ascription of rights requires not just having a role or function, but being a self conscious entity that is also (at least in principle) conscious of that common good.

We can see from this brief summary that, while Bosanquet's view is at a distance from Green's, it is still largely sympathetic to it. For example, in his review of A.E. Taylor's The Problem of Conduct, Bosanquet recalls "the truth and importance of Green's proof that morality involves a 'non-natural' agent in the mind, one with the eternal consciousness of the universe"(60) and that individuals are in some way reflections or manifestations of some larger consciousness or will. And while he may not accept the specific consequences Green drew from his analysis of rights, Bosanquet does allow that it is "a gain for Ethics, to connect the human mind with, or derive it from, a timeless mind which is the unity of the universe."(61) Again, in The Philosophical Theory of the State, Bosanquet seems to allow that there is a kind of natural law or natural right that can be traced back to Greek classical philosophy and the notion of function or ergon (though he would not say that this is sufficient to generate rights).

Nevertheless, unlike Green, Bosanquet insists on an authoritative recognition of all rights. Bradley, too, is at some distance from Green here; for Bradley, as we have seen, the only "real" rights are "legal" rights, acknowledged in law or custom. But Bradley avoids questions concerning the recognition and ascription of rights, and it is interesting that, within a few years of the publication of Ethical Studies, he seems ready to abandon the locution of rights and their putative bearing on moral and social policy.

This shift from Green's account, which we find in both Bosanquet and Bradley, is revealing because each takes a different direction. Why this shift at all? Arguably, both were concerned with elements of Green's views later targetted explicitly by critics(62) such as H.A. Prichard(63) and John Plamenatz.(64)

Two of the likely concerns of Bosanquet and Bradley, later discussed by these critics, were that Green's account of the origin of rights was either incomplete or inconsistent. Prichard, for example, objects that, in distinguishing between rights that require legal recognition and those that do not, Green "is forced to single out certain rights, viz. to liberty, life, and property (viz. those which we think of as natural rights), as forming a special class which do not come into being with the state and can be treated without reference to the form of society which concedes them."(65) Plamenatz makes a similar point. In referring to Green's distinction between Recht and Naturrecht (see LPPO §16), he maintains that, on Green's view, "there may exist natural rights [...] even if they were recognized neither by the government, nor by the majority of the members of a society, so long as their exercise would tend to promote the existence of what is good".(66) Recognition, then, even if a common, is not an essential aspect of rights. But, these critics note, the existence of rights needs recognition by someone or some thing. And this recognition must be clear and authoritative. Prichard notes that "we can only rightly speak of a man's community as securing to him certain powers, if we think of it as doing so through an agent. To substitute something called custom or the law of opinion is useless".(67) And to say that some rights are recognised by the state, and others not, these authors allege, shows a clear inconsistency in Green's view on the nature and origin of rights.(68)

I am not concerned here whether these criticisms can be sustained but, rather, with how one finds an anticipation of and a response to them in Bosanquet and Bradley. Bradley's tactic is, as we have seen, to acknowledge that only legal rights are real rights, suggesting that all real rights must be recognised in law. But despite there being some distance between Bradley's and Green's view, some of the preceding criticisms of Green would bear equally on Bradley's theory of rights. For Bradley does not explain the mechanism of the recognition of rights, nor does he say clearly to whom or to what rights should be ascribed, nor does he say much specifically on what the basis of rights may be. Bradley's political philosophy is itself certainly fragmentary and incomplete.(69)

Bosanquet's account is arguably more able to withstand such criticisms. All rights must be recognised in law--though the key here is what 'recognition' means. Can one insist on the legal recognition of rights and, at the same time, preserve Green's concern with the human individual and the importance of the development of moral personality?

For Bosanquet, recognition is "a matter of logic" (PTS 197). He holds, as I have pointed out elsewhere, that "every social group or institution is the aspect in space and time of a set of corresponding mental systems in individual minds" (PTS 161). The existence of a position, then, is something existing at the level of mind--in consciousness--and so it would be impossible for someone to be said to be a member of a society and have a certain position and yet not be recognized as such by the community. "'[P]ositions' and the recognition of them are one and the same thing" (PTS 196). Now a right is something attached to a position--it is simply "the authoritative vesture" (PTS 190) of a position. Consequently, the recognition of a right is simply a social recognition of a position and of what that position involves. The point is, to use Bosanquet's turn of phrase, a purely logical one. A 'recognition' of rights does not require some supplementary act, over and above what already is the case within this 'relation of minds'.

From this we can see that Bosanquet holds the view, suggested by Green, that 'recognition' is ontological, and not (just) epistemological. To be a person and to have a position is to be recognised as such.

There are two other points that should be noted here. First, Bosanquet notes that recognition need not be "reflective", that is, something of which members of society are explicitly conscious (PTS 197). Recognition may be implicit in the structure, rules, laws, and institutions of society. Thus, paradoxically perhaps, Bosanquet seems to allow that a position and its rights could exist without individuals being conscious of them. The second point is that this recognition must nevertheless be authoritative--specifically, rights must be recognized by the state. This may seem inconsistent with the first point. But we must not forget a number of features of Bosanquet's analysis of rights. First, he would say, without this authoritative recognition, a claim to a right would be indistinct from--and would amount to nothing more than--a wish that there be such a right. Moreover, without a definitive recognition, it would be difficult to identify the nature, the role, and the limits of such claims in organized social life, and there would be no clear means by which one could appeal to, enforce and ensure the respect of these non-legal 'rights'. But, most importantly, recognition by the state is consistent with a right not being explicit in consciousness; it can enjoy an 'unconscious' recognition so far as it is rooted in the recognised positions that exist in that social order. (In this respect, then, Bosanquet's theory addresses Prichard's criticism of Green, noted earlier.(70)) Of course, some states--like some people--can fail to acknowledge explicitly what they are committed to implicitly. They can be inconsistent. But should society be 'inconsistent'--that is, should it recognize certain positions without the corresponding powers--this does not mean that claims which it does not recognize are unrecognized rights.

Still, Bosanquet's account of rights does not challenge or reject the importance or value of the individual. As noted above, for Bosanquet, being a person is itself a function: "our station is, above all things, to be men."(71) And the common good or end of the social order is the development of human personality. Should this end not be the end of the state--if the state be fundamentally corrupt or, conceivably, should social 'morality' be essentially inadequate--Bosanquet does not require that one must defer to it. It is true that he believes that there is a "conation towards unity and self-completeness" (SS 57; see PIV 129-131)--that, as individuals and social facts change, 'inconsistencies' in a society or state are worked out and, thus, a particular 'common good' becomes more comprehensive and complete and approximates the "universal good" or end. Green recognises such an evolution in the common or social good as well (see LPPO §16). Nevertheless, there may be cases where no "internal remedy or reform seems likely--[... e.g.,] where a "state is divided against itself."(72) Given the essential character of this common good to human moral personality, rebellion may be legitimate; while one cannot have a right to rebel (since rights have to be recognised by the state), one can have a duty to do so.

This, again, is a point on which Bosanquet seems closer to Green than to Bradley. Green's view is that one has (or could have) a right to rebel against an immoral state. For Green, even though rights are generally "derived from the state" and while the individual has no right to disobey the laws so far as they "fulfil the idea of a state," it seems one in fact has a right to rebel "for the purpose of making the state in respect of its actual laws more completely correspond to what it is in tendency or idea" (LPPO §142). There is, then, not only a duty to resist despots (LPPO §109ff.), but there may even be a right to do so.

Bradley's view is, at best, more complex. Though he does acknowledge that there is a stage of ideal morality that goes beyond the social morality of 'my station,' Bradley seems somewhat sceptical about challenging social morality. In Ethical Studies, for example, he notes that "[w]e should consider whether the encouraging oneself in having opinions of one's own, in the sense of differing from the world on moral subjects, be not, in any person other than a heaven-sent prophet, sheer self conceit" (ES 200). It is, then, difficult to see from where a duty or right to resist or rebel might come. In any event, Bradley's response is certainly much more mitigated than that suggested by Green.

Thus, given Bosanquet's account of rights (and of the corresponding analysis of 'position') that acknowledges both the social dimension as well as the importance of the individual, Bosanquet would have to be led to a position on punishment that could not allow individuals to be treated without due consideration given to their 'bad will' and to making them aware of their transgression of a law which reflects their own will. Bosanquet would no doubt deny that such an account of rights could determine specifically how and how far one might punish, but it provides at least general strictures on the nature and character of punishment. His is a view that, in many respects, followed Green--one that Bosanquet revised somewhat in order to address some possible problems. But it is not Bradley's position, and Bradley's view is not one that Bosanquet could consistently adopt because it would challenge the nature and value of the individual that Bosanquet is so concerned to protect.

In short, it seems clear not only that Bosanquet and Bradley's views on rights differ, but that Bosanquet's view is close to Green's. This summary is necessary because it bears on the issue of punishment, and helps to explain how Bosanquet's account of rights might be said to lead him to a different view of punishment than that found in Bradley. But highlighting these features of Bosanquet's, Bradley's, and Green's account of rights also allows one to address or comment on some of the concerns about the place of rights in Bosanquet's political thought and in relation to his philosophy as a whole, and about the relation of Bosanquet's views not only to his contemporaries, like Bradley, but to his predecessor, Green.

The fact that Bosanquet's position on punishment is so closely related to his account of rights is not just something accidental or coincidental, but reflects something deeper in his work. In other words, Bosanquet's views on punishment depend not only on a view of rights, but a whole 'social ontology' which, while distinct from his theory of rights, nevertheless underlies it. (This was one of the principal claims of Idealism and Rights.) While rights themselves do not have a fundamental ontological character, they nevertheless depend on principles or elements--such as a 'telos' that is a common good, a concept of the individual, of society, and of state, and a notion of the 'will'--that do. It is true that Bosanquet's social ontology does not determine absolutely the character of his rights theory, but it does provide parameters for any political philosophy or moral science that one might wish to draw from it and, when it comes to practical politics or morality, provides some limits to them as well. Thus, in his review of Taylor's The Problem of Conduct, Bosanquet writes:

[...] I should have thought it might be said "Tell me your metaphysic and I will tell you your ethics." The categories of the philosophical science are not common sense categories, and cannot be handled except by Logic and Metaphysic. If Psychology is to help, it must be a psychology which has gone to school with Metaphysic.(73)
And so we are led from the issue of punishment, through the theory of rights, to the principles that underlie the theory of rights. And this would confirm the claim that I have made elsewhere that the differences between Bosanquet and Bradley on social philosophy and social policy are not simply accidental or matters of strategy, but something more substantive.


There is, then, a close connection between Bosanquet's views on punishment, his account of rights, and his metaphysics--and it is because of the latter, I would suggest, that he could not consistently adopt Bradley's view of punishment. I would also suggest that the same connection holds true for Green, and that both by example and by inclination, Bosanquet follows and develops Green's model in a way that Bradley did not. Indeed, one finds in Bosanquet a social ontology that is close to that which one can trace in Green. Though he expresses it in a different way, and develops it, Bosanquet is arguably trying to present insights which he finds already in Green--concerning the value of the individual, the nature of consciousness and will, and what is necessary for moral action--in the course of elaborating his own metaphysics and political philosophy. It is revealing that Bosanquet should be so concerned to defend Green's metaphysics against Taylor,(74) and that there are almost as many references to Green in Bosanquet's Gifford lectures (which is the single extensive elaboration of his metaphysics) as there are to Bradley, despite the fact that Green did not have the opportunity to articulate a complete metaphysic. This is a connexion that certainly needs to be explored.

It seems clear, then, that while representative of the same general philosophical tradition, there are significant differences between Bosanquet and Bradley. This is not simply a matter of Bosanquet providing a positive or constructive view, while Bradley seems to have been primarily concerned with criticising contemporary empiricist accounts. The root of many of the differences between them, as the examples of their discussions of punishment and, in turn, rights illustrate, is their respective metaphysics. Bosanquet has a different understanding of the underlying metaphysical and logical principles--principles which have long been taken by some to be closer to Bradley's than they really are. I have suggested (though I have not been able to show) that some of Bosanquet's metaphysical principles and commitments, especially concerning the nature and value of the individual, are rather close to Green. How close is a matter that needs to be investigated in order to have a more complete understanding of not only the relation of Bosanquet and Bradley, but the origins and the philosophical character of Bosanquet's thought.


1. Anthony Manser, Bradley's Logic, Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1983, p. 198.

2. Review of Ethical Studies, 2nd ed., in Mind n.s. XXXVII (1928), pp. 235-236.

3. See his letter to Lello Vivante, 27 March 1920, cited in Bernard Bosanquet and his Friends, ed. J.H. Muirhead (originally, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1935) in The Collected Works of Bernard Bosanquet, ed. William Sweet, 20 Volumes, Bristol, UK: Thoemmes, 1999, Vol. XX, esp. pp. 262-263; see also Peter P. Nicholson, The Political Philosophy of the British Idealists: Selected Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 52.

4. The importance and distinctiveness of Bosanquet's views are clear from the fact that the classical criticism of idealist political thought, Leonard Hobhouse's The Metaphysical Theory of the State, London: Allen and Unwin, 1918, is principally a critique of Bosanquet. There is other evidence as well. In his obituary in the Times, Bosanquet was said to have been "the central figure of British philosophy for an entire generation" (See Muirhead, Friends, p. 19); A.N. Whitehead wrote that Bosanquet was "one of the outstanding men who have collectively made the epoch of thought of the last forty years" (ibid, p. 316). Rudolf Metz claimed that "[d]espite the considerable agreement between them [...] Bosanquet's philosophy [...] represents an independent re-creation, extension and application of Bradley's doctrine on the part of a genuine thinker who happened to be congenial with him and who scarcely fell below him in ability" (Diephilosophischen Strömungen der Gegenwart in Grossbritannien, Leipzig: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1935; tr. as A Hundred Years of British Philosophy, tr. J.W. Harvey, T.E. Jessop, Henry Sturt; ed. J.H. Muirhead, London: Allen and Unwin, 1938, p. 346).

5. In fact, in philosophical circles, aside from Bradley, McTaggart's work has been the most frequently discussed of all the idealists. A recent review of The Philosophers Index (1940-2000) reveals that some 138 articles and books discuss McTaggart, compared with only some 50 that mention Bosanquet.

6. To the issues of interpreting Bosanquet's own work must be added the frequent failure to distinguish Bosanquet's views on social policy from those of his wife Helen.

7. Some of Bosanquet's early essays--e.g., "Our Right to Regard Evil as a Mystery" (originally in Mind, o.s. VIII (1883), pp. 419-21), Collected Works, Vol. I, pp. 11-14 and "Mr. F. H. Bradley on Fact and Inference" (originally in Mind, o.s. X (1885), pp. 256-65), Collected Works, Vol. I, pp. 333-344--and his first book--Knowledge and Reality. A Criticism of Mr. F. H. Bradley's "Principles of Logic" (originally, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1885), Collected Works, Vol. IX--explicitly challenge Bradley's early logical views.

8. See my "F.H. Bradley and Bernard Bosanquet," in Philosophy after F.H. Bradley, ed. James Bradley, Bristol, U.K.: Thoemmes Press, 1996, pp. 31-56, and "'Absolute Idealism' and Finite Individuality," in Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. XXIV, No. 4 (1997), pp. 431-462.

9. See my Idealism and Rights, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997. For another recent discussion of the relation between Bradley and Bosanquet's political philosophy, see Nicholson, British Idealists, preface and studies I and VI, and my review of Nicholson in Laval théologique et philosophique, Vol. 48, (1992), pp. 477-480.

10. See my "Social Policy and Bosanquet's Philosophy," in Collingwood Studies, VI (1999), pp. 127-146.

11. See my "Bernard Bosanquet and the Nature of Religious Belief," in Anglo-American Idealism: 1865-1927, ed. W.J. Mander, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000: 123-139.

12. See note 7 above. In the second edition of his Principles of Logic, Bradley acknowledges the weight of Bosanquet's criticisms of the first edition.

13. See Manser, op. Cit., pp. 144 (on the emphasis in Bosanquet on disjunctive judgement), 192; 197-200; While Manser notes Bradley's indebtedness to Bosanquet in logic (particularly on those issues that led to the preparation of the second edition of the Principles of Logic), he adds that "[i]n many cases, it seems that Bosanquet did not fully understand Bradley's arguments; at best he gives them a somewhat shallow interpretation" (op. cit., p. 199)

14. Phillip Ferreira, Bradley and the Structure of Knowledge, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

15. See Principles of Logic, second edition, corrected, London: Oxford University Press / H. Milford, 1928, p. 125, note 1 and 'Terminal Essay' VI-- 'The Negative Judgement,' pp. 662-667, esp. pp. 665ff on floating ideas.

16. See James Bradley, "F.H. Bradley's Metaphysics of Feeling," in The Philosophy of F.H. Bradley, ed. Anthony Manser and Guy Stock, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 227-242, esp. p. 233.

17. See W.J. Mander, "Bradley and Green on Relations" in Idealism, Metaphysics and Community, ed. William Sweet, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000.

18. S. Candlish, "The Truth about F.H. Bradley," Mind, XCVIII (1989), pp. 331-348, and "Resurrecting the Identity Theory of Truth," Bradley Studies 1 (1995), pp. 116-124. See also R.C.S. Walker, "Bradley's Theory of Truth," in Appearance versus Reality, ed. Guy Stock, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998, pp. 93-109.

19. See Muirhead, Friends, p. 24

20. See Idealism and Rights, op. cit., "'Absolute Idealism' and Finite Individuality," op. cit., and "F.H. Bradley and Bernard Bosanquet," op. cit.

21. See Henry Sturt, George Sabine, Ralph G. Ross, S.I. Benn and R.S. Peters (noted by Peter Nicholson in "Bradley as a Political Philosopher," in The Philosophy of F.H. Bradley, ed. Manser and Stock, op. cit., pp. 117-130.

22. Hobhouse, The Metaphysical Theory of the State, p. 86 and J.A. Hobson, The Crisis of Liberalism, p. 197, cited in Frederick Philip Harris, The Neo-Idealist Political Theory: Its Continuity with the British Tradition. New York. King's Crown Press, 1944 (Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University), p. 109, n. 104.

23. Nicholson, British Idealists; Charles Le Chevalier, La pensée morale de Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923): Etude sur l'univers moral de l'idéalisme anglais au 19e siècle (Thèse complémentaire pour le doctorat ès lettres) Paris: Vrin, 1963; republished under the title Ethique et idéalisme: le courant néo-hegelien en Angleterre, Bernard Bosanquet et ses amis, Paris: Vrin, 1963; Richard Wollheim, F.H. Bradley, 2nd ed, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.

24. "Absolute Idealism," op. cit., especially pp. 444-449.

25. Apart from his statements on the value of the good will in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals and The Critique of Practical Reason, in The Metaphysics of Morals Kant speaks of punishment as respecting the principle "that everyone will duly receive what his actions are worth" (see The Metaphysical Elements of Justice, ed. John Ladd, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965, Part II, sec. 1, § 49 E. i, p. 102).

26. Some Suggestions in Ethics [SS] (originally: London: Macmillan, 1919), Collected Works, Vol. XVI, p. 198.

27. There is also a clear influence of Hegel here as well. For Hegel's view, see Hegel's Philosophy of Right, tr. T.M. Knox, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945, §100 (add): "punishment is regarded as containing the criminal's right and hence by being punished he is honoured as a rational being" (p. 71).

28. On the 'utilitarian' character of Bradley's view, see David J. Crossley, "Bradley's Utilitarian Theory of Punishment," Ethics, 86 (1976), pp. 200-213. See also Peter Johnson's "Bradley and the Nature of Punishment," in Manser and Stock, op. cit., pp. 99-116.

For Bradley's discussion, see his "Some Remarks on Punishment," in International Journal of Ethics, Vol. IV (1893-1894), pp. 269-284, reprinted in Collected Essays [CE], Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935, pp. 149-164. Bradley also discusses punishment in Ethical Studies [ES] (1876; 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927) Chapter 1, pp. 26-33, but leaves the matter of the positive justification of punishment unresolved. Is there a shift in his view between these two essays? I would argue that there is not. In the first place, despite the gap in date of first publication, there is reason to believe that the International Journal of Ethics article was actually written in 1878 or 1879 [see Nicholson, 1984, p. 130, n. 11]. Besides, in the later text, Bradley writes that he has "little to correct in the old statement [in Ethical Studies] of [his] view except a certain number of one-sided and exaggerated expressions"(CE 164, note 1).

29. Personal communication, 22 April 1998. See also Nicholson's views on the relation of theory and practice in Bradley in his 1984 essay, "Bradley as a Political Philosopher," op. cit.

30. Bradley states, for example, that it is impossible to determine guilt or moral crime (CE 154), and so punishment cannot be based on either.

31. Nicholson, 1984, pp. 120-121. See also Bradley here: "in an ethical discussion I even venture to think that practical proposals are out of place. [...] I am sceptical as to the value for any such a purpose of any moral philosophy [...]" (CE 163). And see David Crossley, "Feeling in Bradley's "Ethical Studies". Idealistic Studies, 19 (1989), pp. 43-61. Here, Crossley argues that, for Bradley, "moral principles cannot tell us what to do since they will either be formal and empty of content or empirical generalizations not necessarily applicable to future situations."

32. I refer throughout to the 'new' edition of this work, The Philosophical Theory of the State and Related Essays by Bernard Bosanquet, ed. with Introductions, notes, and annotations by William Sweet and Gerald F. Gaus, Bristol, UK/South Bend, IN: Thoemmes Press/St Augustine's Press, 1999. [Henceforth PTS].

33. See my "'Absolute Idealism,'" p. 446.

34. According to Don MacNiven, Bradley quotes Kant approvingly on the relation of punishment and guilt (see Bradley's Moral Psychology, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1987, p. 62). But this is not as obvious a matter as MacNiven suggests. Note that MacNiven is referring to Essay I of Ethical Studies, and that Bradley does not explicitly offer any positive view on punishment here.

35. CE 155; see especially Bradley's note on this page.

36. PTS 215. See further the essay "On the Growing Repugnance to Punishment" in Some Suggestions in Ethics (Ch. VIII).

37. See T.H. Green: Lectures on the principles of political obligation, and other writings [LPPO], ed. Paul Harris and John Morrow, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; see also Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, in The Works of Thomas Hill Green, ed. R.L. Nettleship, 3 vols., London, 1885-88 [republished in The Collected Works of T.H. Green, ed. Peter P. Nicholson, 5 vols. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press, 1997], Vol. II, pp. 307-553. (This was also republished as a separate volume, London: Longman's, Green, and Co., 1917, with a preface by Bernard Bosanquet.)

38. See Collected Works of T.H. Green, ed. Nicholson, Vol. 5, p. 175.

39. Prolegomena to Ethics, ed. A.C. Bradley, 5th edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906, especially here §51. See Bosanquet's discussion of Green in his "Recent Criticism of Green's Ethics," in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s. II (1901-1902), pp. 25-62; Reprinted in Science and Philosophy and Other Essays by the Late Bernard Bosanquet, ed. J. H. Muirhead and R. C. Bosanquet (originally, London: Allen and Unwin, 1927), Collected Works, Vol. XIX, pp.150-181.

40. This is the kernel of the objection to Bradley that one finds in Johnson's article on Bradley on punishment (see Johnson, "Bradley and the Nature of Punishment," op. cit.).

41. While some of the members of Bosanquet's extended family--notably, his nephew, the archaeologist Robert Carr Bosanquet--were members of the British Eugenics Society, neither Bosanquet not Helen were.

42. See my "Social Policy and Bosanquet's Philosophy," op. cit., especially pp. 135-138.

43. Note Bosanquet's view that the finite human individual is a link or copula between nonhuman nature and the Absolute. I discuss this in "'Absolute Idealism'," op. cit. See Bosanquet's views in The Principle of Individuality and Value [PIV] (originally, London: Macmillan, 1912), Collected Works, Vol. VI, pp. 371, 382; see also pp. 288, 321-2, 326, 218; and The Value and Destiny of the Individual [VDI] (originally, London: Macmillan, 1913), Collected Works, Vol. VII, pp. 280ff.

44. See p. viii of Ethical Studies; in the Preface to the first edition.

45. Nicholson, personal communication, 22 April 1998.

46. Colin Tyler, Review of Idealism and Rights, in History of Political Thought, XX (1999), pp 379-381.

47. Geoffrey Thomas, Review of Idealism and Rights, in Bradley Studies, 4 (1998), pp 115-118.

48. Timothy Sprigge, personal communication, March 20, 1998.

49. David Crossley, Review of Idealism and Rights, Dialogue, Vol. XXXVIII (1999), pp. 688-690.

50. Appearance and Reality, 2nd ed., ninth impression (corrected), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930, p. 373.

51. See, for example, "The Kingdom of God on Earth," in Essays and Addresses (originally, London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1889), Collected Works, Vol. XII, pp. 108-130; reprinted in Science and Philosophy (originally, London: Allen and Unwin, 1927), Collected Works, Vol. XIX, pp. 333-351; "The Social Good" (in Some Suggestions in Ethics, p. 31), and The Value and Destiny of the Individual, p. 141, n. 1.

52. Bosanquet traces the origin of such expressions as 'function', 'station' or 'position' to the notion of ergon in Plato's Republic. See A Companion to Plato's Republic for English Readers: Being a Commentary adapted to Davies and Vaughan's Translation (originally, London: Macmillan, 1895), Collected Works, Vol. XI, pp. 63, 82. It also appears in Green in the Prolegomena to Ethics, where he refers to the importance of fulfilling the "duties of one's station," §183; see also §§313 and 338).

53. "The Kingdom of God on Earth," Collected Works, Vol. XII, op. cit., p. 121.

54. Ibid., p. 120.

55. "The Function of the State in Promoting the Unity of Mankind", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s. XVII (1916-1917): 28-57. (Reprinted in Social and International Ideals: Being Studies in Patriotism (originally, London, 1917), Collected Works, Vol. XV, pp. 270-301), p. 281; See also PTS 156; 201.

56. See Prolegomena to Ethics, §§181-191, especially here § 185. As noted above in note 43, an important parallel here is Bosanquet's view of the individual as a copula between nature and the Absolute. See The Principle of Individuality and Value, Collected Works, Vol. VI, pp. 371, 382; see also pp. 288, 321-2, 326, 218; and The Value and Destiny of the Individual, Collected Works, Vol. VII, pp. 280ff.

57. Nicholson, British Idealists, p. 87. Nicholson notes that one's moral personality is "made by social recognition" (op. cit., p. 89). It is clear that, if one were to describe such rights as natural, they are so only in the sense that they are "necessary to the end which it is the vocation of human society to realise" (LPPO §9)--not "in the sense they actually exist when a man is born and that they have actually existed as long as the human race" or that they are "antecedent to society" (LPPO §30). The concept of 'natural right' used here is obviously radically different from that of classical or modern natural rights theory.

58. See also A.D. Lindsay, "T.H. Green and the Idealists," in The Social and Political Ideas of Some Representative Thinkers of the Victorian Age, ed. F.J.C Hearnshaw, London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1933, pp. 150-164, at p. 161.

59. This point has also been recognised by Colin Tyler, Thomas Hill Green (1836-1882) and the Philosophical Foundations of Politics, Lampeter (Wales): Edwin Mellen, 1997, p. 179.

60. See Bosanquet's review essay, "Systematic Philosophy in the United Kingdom in 1900" [Reviews of B. Russell, A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz; John Grote, Exploratio Philosophica Part II; A.E. Taylor, The Problem of Conduct; J.M.E. McTaggart, "Hegel's Treatment of the Categories of the Idea," Mind, April 1900], Archiv für systematische philosophie, VIII (1902), pp. 123-34, p. 132. See also "Recent Criticism of Green's Ethics," Collected Works, Vol. XIX, pp.150-181.

61. See "Systematic Philosophy in the United Kingdom in 1900," p. 132.

62. He has also had his defenders. See, notably, Colin Tyler, Thomas Hill Green (1836-1882) and the Philosophical Foundations of Politics, op. cit.

63. H. A. Prichard, Moral Obligation, and Duty and Interest: essays and lectures, with an introduction by J. O. Urmson. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

64. John Plamenatz, Consent, Freedom and Political Obligation, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968,

65. Prichard, p. 79.

66. Plamenatz, p. 95. Hobhouse as well argues that Green is inconsistent in insisting that rights be recognized (see Hobhouse, p. 119).

67. Prichard, p. 75.

68. Prichard, p. 76.

69. The main source for Bradley's political philosophy is Ethical Studies, published in 1876, for he wrote almost nothing more on these topics. The sole exceptions are "Some Remarks on Punishment," and "The Limits of Individual and National Self Sacrifice," in International Journal of Ethics, Vol. V (1894-1895), pp. 17-28) (both reprinted in CE). As noted earlier, despite the publication dates, both were written possibly as early as 1878.

70. The Scottish-Canadian idealist, John Watson, seems to try to hold a middle ground here between Green and Bosanquet. He appears to hold a view very much like that of Bosanquet when he writes that "the right to life is bound up with [one's] position in the State", yet (obviously echoing Green's comments in LPPO §154) Watson then goes on to speak of "the right to free life as a human being" (The State in Peace and War, Glasgow: Maclehose, 1919, p. 230).

71. "The Kingdom of God on Earth," Collected Works, Vol. XII, p. 120.

72. Bosanquet, "The Function of the State in Promoting the Unity of Mankind," Collected Works, Vol. XV, p. 284, n. 1.

73. "Systematic Philosophy in the United Kingdom in 1900," p. 133.

74. In "Recent Criticism of Green's Ethics," op. cit., which undertakes to discuss, as well, a number of metaphysical issues in Green's Prolegomena.