Liberalism, Eugenics, and the State. The Case of the Philosophy of Bernard Bosanquet

Janusz Grygieńć



The aim of the paper consists in presenting the place occupied by Bernard Bosanquet’s philosophy in the context of the welfare provision debate taking placentury in Britain. The main thesis of the article is that although often accused of totalitarian or radically individualist tendencies, which supposedly had an effect on his attitude towards eugenics, Bosanquet’s treatment of the “social problem” may be seen as an application of moderate liberal principles. To
on intellectual and political attitudes of the time towards eugenics, then passing to Bosanquet’s stand in relation to this
referring to the thesis of the article.

Słowa kluczowe

eugenics; charity; idealism; individualism; interventionism; liberalism; Poor Law; socialism; social policy

Pełny tekst:

PDF (English)


Bosanquet B. (1895a). Socialism and Natural Selection, [in:] Aspects of the Social Problem (ed. B. Bosanquet), Macmillan and Co., London-New York, p. 289-307.

Bosanquet B. (1895b). The Reality of the General Will, [in:] Aspects of the Social Problem (ed. B. Bosanquet), Macmillan and Co., London-New York, p. 319-332.

Bosanquet B. (1895c). Character and its Bearing on Social Causation, in: Aspects of the Social Problem (ed. B. Bosanquet), Macmillan and Co., London-New York, p. 103-117.

Bosanquet B. (1895d). The Principle of Private Property, in: Aspects of the Social Problem (ed. B. Bosanquet), Macmillan and Co., London-New York, p. 308-318.

Bosanquet B. (1909). The Reports of the Poor Law Commission, I, The Majority Report, “Sociological Review”, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 109-126.

Bosanquet B. (1967), Selection by Maintenance of a Social Standard, in: B. Bosanquet, Social and International Ideals. Being Studies in Patriotism, Books for Libraries Press, New York.

Bosanquet B. (1993), The Philosophical Theory of the State, Gregg Revivals, Aldershot.

Broad C.B. (1919). The Notion of General Will, „Mind. New Series”, Vol. 28, p. 502–504.

den Otter S.M. (2007). Bosanquet and Charity Organization Society, in: Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism (ed. W. Sweet), University of Toronto Press, Toronto-London, p. 33- 49.

Dorey P. (2011). British Conservatism. The Politics and Philosophy of Inequality, I.B. Tauris, London-New York.

Freeden M. (1978). The New Liberalism. An Ideology of Social Reform, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Grygienc J. (2013). General Will in Political Philosophy, transl. D. Gajewska, Imprint Academic, Exeter (in print).

Haldane J.B.S. (1938). Heredity and Politics, Norton & Co., New York.

Hasian M.A. Jr. (1996). The Rhetoric of Eugenics in Anglo-American Thought, University of Georgia Press, Athens.

Hobhouse L.T. (1918). Metaphysical Theory of the State: A Criticism, George Allen & Unwin, London.

Huxley T.H. (1897). Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, Appleton and Company, New York.

Kidd B. (1895). Social Evolution, Macmillan and Co., London-New York.

MacKenzie D. (1976). Eugenics in Britain, “Studies in Social Science”, vol. 6, no. 3-4, p. 499-532.

Mazumdar P.M.H. (1992). Eugenics, Human Genetics, and Human Failings. The Eugenics Society, its sources and its critics in Britain, Routledge, London.

Morrow J. (1984). Liberalism and British Idealist Political Philosophy: A Reassessment, „History of Political Thought”, Vol. 5.

Morrow J. (1985). Ancestors, Legacies and Traditions. British Idealism in the History of Political Thought, “History of Political Thought”, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 491- 515.

Nicholson P.P. (1990). Political Philosophy of the British Idealists. Selected Studies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Paul D. (1984). Eugenics and the Left, “Journal of the History of Ideas”, Vol. 45, No. 4, p. 567-590.

Plamenatz J.P. (1968). Consent, Freedom and Political Obligation, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Richardson A. (2003). Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century. Rational Reproduction of and the New Women, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sabine G.H. (1923). Bosanquet’s Theory of the General Will, “Philosophical Review”, Vol. 32, p. 639-649.

Spencer H. (1883). Social Statics, or Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified , D. Appleton and Company, New York.

Spencer H. (1899). The Principles of Sociology, Vol. 2, D. Appleton and Company, New York.

Sweet W. (1997). Idealism and Rights. The Social Ontology of Human Rights in the Political Thought of Bernard Bosanquet, University Press of America, Lanham–New York–London.

Taylor A.E. (1920). Critical Notice of Hobhouse’s Metaphysical Theory of the State, “Mind”, Vol. 29, p. 91–105.

Vincent A. (1984). The Poor Law Reports of 1909 and the Social Theory of the Charity Organization Society, “Victorian Studies”, Vol. 27, No. 3, , p. 343-363.

Vincent A., Plant R. (1984). Philosophy, Politics, and Citizenship. The Life and Times of the British Idealists, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Partnerzy platformy czasopism