Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion

Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion

Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion

Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion

Excerpt

At the present day, when there is renewed interest in the concept of human rights and in the application of this concept to the problems of government, it may be instructive to review an eighteenth-century dispute which was concerned precisely with these themes. Nor should the investigation be any less interesting because the disputants were Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine: both these men have also been the object of renewed attention and study in recent years. Critical work on the biography and bibliography of Paine is being done by Professor Aldridge and Col. Richard Gimbel respectively; while Burke is being well looked after, not only by the able team of experts who, under the leadership of Professor Copeland, are engaged in producing the critical edition of his Correspondence, but also by such individual scholars as D.C. Bryant, C.B. Cone, T.H.D. Mahoney, P.J. Stanlis, C. Parkin, F. Canavan, and A. Cobban. But though Burke and Paine are being studied separately, little work appears to have been done on the relationship between them, apart from an essay by Professor Copeland published more than twelve years ago. It is hoped that the present study, while it does not claim to add anything to the facts about Burke and Paine already known to his-

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