This is a new edition of a classic work by one of the world's leading progressive political philosophers. Ted Honderich examines ideology and reality in British and American politics in order to establish the true distinctions of conservatism. Conservatives often claim to believe in reform, but not change, to rely on instinct rather than abstract theories. So what is the conservative rationale? Does conservatism have a philosophical founding principle that unifies it? Ted Honderich's search for the fundamental principle of conservatism is an enlightening one. He examines influential thinkers in the conservative tradition, from Edmund Burke and Adam Smith to Michael Oakeshott and Robert Nozick. He brings rigorous analytic philosophy to bear on the Republican party in the United States, and the Conservative party and the New Labour party in Britain. This lucid book, written with wit and clarity, is fully revised and updated in order to give a rigorous and complete analysis of conservatism up to the American election of 2004. Honderich's subtle analysis is not without surprises: the book will continue to be of interest to all students of politics, and anyone who wants a broader understanding of what today's politicians owe to the conservative tradition.
'A tumultuous onslaught ... a substantial piece of work' -- Anthony Quinton, The Times
'[A] powerful critique of the major beliefs of modern conservatism ... [Honderich] shows how much a rigourous philosopher can contribute to understanding the fashionable but deeply ruinous absurdities of his times.' -- Bhiku Parekh, New Statesman
'The whole book must be read. Indeed only the final page, like a good detective story, brings with it the full philosophical discovery' -- Michael Foot, Observer
'[An] extended analysis of conservative political theory by an eminent radical philosopher ... a significant and timely event' -- Noel O'Sullivan, Utilitas
'My schematic outline doesn't begin to convey the passion that informs the analyses in Conservatism, nor does it suggest the wealth of arguments it contains. Well argued or badly argued, Conservatism is relentlessly, fiercely argued.' -- Robert Fullinwider, Philosophical Books
'Ted Honderich's self-righteousness may not reach to the height of a Robespierre or a Lenin; but it is for all that alarming. Given his failure of imagination concerning every experience and opinion that he does not share, one must hope that he remains confined to a university chair' -- Roger Scruton, Philosophical Quarterly