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This article explores how Francois Guizot's critique of democracy was part of a serious contribution to discussions about moral theory that dominated French political thought in the first decades of the nineteenth century. It analyses how Guizot's reflections on selfhood and moral psychology were central to that critique, and shows how Guizot and other doctrinaires, including Pierre-Paul Royer Collard and Philibert Damiron, believed that the political and social instability that marked France from the time of the Revolution stemmed logically from the materialist doctrines and ideas on political sovereignty of the philosophes and their nineteenthcentury successors the ideologues. The article charts the evolution of Guizot's and the doctrinaires' philosophical reflections and pays special attention to the dialogue that developed between them and the philosopher Maine de Biran on Thomas Reid's philosophy of Common Sense and its political implications. It shows how Guizot and the doctrinaires were drawn to Reid's philosophy because it offered the ideal foundation to the moderate liberalism they sought to establish.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford, OX2 6JF, Email: michael.drolet@history.ox.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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