Progress, Pluralism, and Politics: Liberalism and Colonialism, Past and Present - McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas (Paperback)David Williams (author)
Liberal thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were alert to the political costs and human cruelties involved in European colonialism, but they also thought that European expansion held out progressive possibilities. In Progress, Pluralism, and Politics David Williams examines the colonial and anti-colonial arguments of Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, and L.T. Hobhouse.
Williams locates their ambivalent attitude towards European conquest and colonial rule in a set of tensions between the impact of colonialism on European states, the possibilities of progress in distant and diverse places, and the relationship between universalism and cultural pluralism. In so doing he reveals some of the central ambiguities that characterize the ways that liberal thought has dealt with the reality of an illiberal world. Of particular importance are appeals to various forms of universal history, attempts to mediate between the claims of identity and the reality of difference, and the different ways of thinking about the achievement of liberal goods in other places.
Pointing to key elements in still ongoing debates within liberal states about how they should relate to illiberal places, Progress, Pluralism, and Politics enriches the discussion on political thought and the relationship between liberalism and colonialism.
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Number of pages: 224
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Progress, Pluralism, and Politics reconstructs a significantly more intricate story of liberalism than what is typically told. The subtlety of Williams' analysis, and his willingness to provide a nuanced account of both the liberal tradition and the individual authors that he considers in his book, are really appreciated." Brian Schmidt, Carleton University
"Progress, Pluralism, and Politics makes a timely contribution to the recent debates on liberalism's historical liaisons with imperialism. David Williams insightfully reconstructs the philosophical aporias that liberal anticolonialism has found difficult to avoid and even more difficult to resolve." Onur Ulas Ince, Singapore Management University and author of Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism
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