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The Propriety of Liberty: Persons, Passions, and Judgement in Modern Political Thought Hardcover


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Editorial Reviews

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"In the face of these obstacles, Kelly not only constructs a synthetic counter-narrative, he does so while embedding each writer in an almost unmanageably large body of current secondary scholarship and within the entire history of political thought. The result is an admirable demonstration of the power of intellectual history in the service of political theory. . . . Finally, this fine work makes the larger argument that political theory must incorporate all three of its 'languages'--philosophy, history and theology--into the moral psychology of freedom."--Eldon J. Eisenach, History of Political Thought Journal



"The Propriety of Liberty is a signal achievement in clarifying the contours of modern political and moral thinking about individual freedom and responsible agency in society."--Hussein Banai, Political Studies Review



"This is a challenging but also deeply rewarding book. Kelly's command of the literature, the intelligence of his argument, and the level of detail that he offers are truly impressive. The book overflows with interesting insights."--Helena Rosenblatt, Journal of Modern History

From the Inside Flap


"This book emphatically establishes Duncan Kelly's rise to prominence as one of the most subtle scholars of political thought of his generation. Combining his exemplary dual skills as political theorist and historian of ideas, he casts a fresh look over the idea of liberty as a feature of responsible individual agency, uniting the personal and the political. Taking the reader through the works of major political philosophers from Locke to T. H. Green, Kelly offers a challenging counterweight to standard liberal accounts of the evolution of liberty. An intellectual feast to savor."--Michael Freeden, University of Oxford


"Duncan Kelly, an established interpreter of German social thought, here deploys the tools of intellectual history and political theory to reconstruct a vibrant Anglo-French tradition of thinking about situated freedom and responsibility. We can escape sterile categories of liberal and republican, ancient and modern, and negative and positive liberty, Kelly shows, by resuscitating a discourse concerned with responsible agency: the exercise of rational freedom, motivated by the passions, and bounded by historically constituted and shared understandings of justice. The Propriety Of Liberty combines meticulous historical scholarship with ambitious arguments demonstrating the continued salience of these complex and often misunderstood ideas."--James T. Kloppenberg, author of The Virtues Of Liberalism


"The Propriety of Liberty is an erudite and original study of an immensely important yet neglected aspect of the history of liberty in early modern and modern political thought: the relationships among liberty, character formation, and propriety. I recommend it to anyone interested in the history of these interconnected concepts."--James Tully, University of Victoria


"This deep, rich, and original book carves out a distinctive approach to freedom which will reshape the current contours of inquiry. In addition, it offers fresh and subtle interpretations of selfhood and self-ownership, and of the relationships between passions, persons, publicity, and judgement."--Hannah Dawson, University of Edinburgh


"This is an excellent book. Broad in scope and admirably steeped in the literatures it treats, Kelly's recovery of a tradition of theorizing about liberty as propriety will be of interest to a wide range of political theorists, historians of ideas, and philosophers engaged in questions of freedom and agency."--Ryan Patrick Hanley, Marquette University



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