Quentin Skinner in Newcastle

Medieval and Early Modern Studies Keynote Lecture Series 

Quentin Skinner, ‘A Genealogy of Liberty’

University of Newcastle, UK, Tuesday 8th March, 5pm, Room G21/22 of the Devonshire Building

Abstract: Among contemporary political theorists, the idea of individual liberty is generally defined in negative terms as absence of interference.  This lecture argues that, if the concept is instead approached genealogically, this orthodoxy begins to appear in need of qualification and perhaps abandonment.  The genealogy traced in the lecture is shown to carry three specific implications, each of which is discussed in turn.  The first is that the concept of interference is of much greater complexity than is often allowed, and gives rise to a number of incommensurable theories of negative liberty.  The second is that it may be misleading to assume that liberty can be defined only in negative terms.  Finally, even if we accept that liberty is a negative concept, it remains unclear that negative liberty is best understood as absence of interference.

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5 Responses to Quentin Skinner in Newcastle

  1. Steve Legg says:

    I saw Skinner give this paper at Nottingham last year; an amazing speaker and amazing concepts….

  2. Sounds fascinating… I’m noticing a lot of critiques of ideas of negative liberty around at the moment (and also re-presentations of ideas around positive liberty) … probably explicable by me just paying more attention to this area, unless others have also noticed this tendency? Wish I was a bit nearer to Newcastle!

    Do let us know if you are aware of any connected publications by Skinner, Stuart.

  3. Oh and I decoded the url in your post by the way, in case this is helpful to others:

  4. stuartelden says:

    Thanks – I’ve fixed the link. He’s been working on related issues for some time. His book Liberty before Liberalism would be a good place to start, but there is a lot of other work.

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