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R.G. Collingwood on civility and economic licentiousness

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Purpose ‐ Working on the assumption that civility is the core value of R.G. Collingwood's political philosophy, the paper aims to examine the capacity of civility to curb economic excess in the absence of distributive justice. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper investigates the economic and political writings of Collingwood to see if they can be made to yield restraints on economic excess when based on civility alone. Comparisons are drawn between Collingwood and modern liberal philosophers such as John Rawls in order to identify where Collingwood stands on key concepts in the argument. Contrasts are established with Hobbes and Ruskin on the issues at stake, so clarifying what can be drawn from Collingwood on the specific topic under discussion. Findings ‐ The paper concludes that there is theoretical scope within Collingwood's political writings for a curb on economic excess in the absence of a concept of distributive justice, even though this takes a different form from the approach of modern liberals such as John Rawls. Originality/value ‐ It is shown that Collingwood's economic writings are relevant to modern discussions of social justice even when it is civility and not justice that is Collingwood's main focus.
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Keywords: Civil and political rights; Economics; Justice; Political philosophy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 28 September 2010

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