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Quentin Skinner in Context

Abstract

As Quentin Skinner argues, political thinkers are best read in historical context. But in what context do Skinner's own interpretations of the history of political thought belong? This essay places his denunciation of grand narratives in the context of the decline of Whig interpretations of history and presents his Republicanism as a substitute source of legitimacy in the wake of the collapse of the British Empire and of the loss of social influence of Christianity. This essay also argues that Skinner's inquiries cannot be understood solely in the light of their historical context. His historical work is linked with his republican philosophy. The relation between his concept of liberty and his contextualism shows the dependence of his contextualist methodology on specific philosophical commitments.

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The Review of Politics
  • ISSN: 0034-6705
  • EISSN: 1748-6858
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-politics
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