Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Francis H. Bradley on Individuals - Dictionary of Arguments

Rawls I 110
Individuum/Bradley: Bradley's thesis: The individual is a pure abstraction. (F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies, 2nd Edition, Oxford, 1927, pp. 163-189.)
Rawls: here, Bradley can be interpreted without major distortions in such a way that the duties and tasks presuppose a moral conception of institutions, and therefore the content of equitable institutions must be determined before demands can be made on individuals.

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Gaus I 415
Individuals/Bradley/Weinstein: (...) English idealists like F. H. Bradley and Bernard Bosanquet were as much indebted to Hegel for their social ontology and moral and political theory as for their conception of history (...). Bradley argues that individuals are socially constituted, making morality fundamentally social in the sense that acting morally requires acting for others rather than simply leaving them alone. Hence, in so far as good is self-realization, acting morally means promoting everyone's self-realization, not merely one's own. Being so interdependently constituted, we best promote our own self-realization by simultaneously promoting our fellow citizens' and they best promote theirs by promoting ours (Bradley, 1988(1): 116).
BradleyVsUtilitarianism/BradleyVsKantianism: Moreover, because our identities are socially encumbered, rationalistic moral theories like utilitarianism and Kantianism are misconceived and self-defeating.
Socialization/Bradley: Both theories share the misguided pre-Hegelian delusion that we can somehow detach ourselves from our social milieu when determining how to act. Acting morally primarily entails embracing one's socially constituted identity and fulfilling 'one's station and its duties'. Nonetheless, fulfilling the duties of one's station isn't the whole of morality since the kind of society in which one lives also matters. Conventional morality must not be taken uncritically. >Liberty/Bosanquet.


1. Bradley, F. H. (1988 [1927]) Ethical Studies (1876). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Weinstein, David 2004. „English Political Theory in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Brad I
F. H. Bradley
Essays on Truth and Reality (1914) Ithaca 2009

Rawl I
J. Rawls
A Theory of Justice: Original Edition Oxford 2005

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-08-12
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