Political Theory

Human Nature, Civility, and Mores


This colloquium addressed a central issue in Western political thought, asking the questions: What is the relation between civil liberty, political constitutions, civility, and mores in shaping individual and national character? Is civility essential—or averse—to individual happiness? Is it a product of a free constitution or the result of its absence? Is it an instrument of individual freedom, of individual autonomy, or a by-product of political (and social) servitude? To what extent are sense and sensibility inherent in human nature, and how much do they owe to acquired education?


Conference Readings

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Hume, David. Essays: Moral, Political and Literary. Edited by Eugene F. Miller. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985, 1987.

Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat. The Spirit of the Laws. Translated by Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller, and Harold Samuel Stone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Politics and the Arts: Letter to M. d’Alembert on the Theatre. Translated by Alan Bloom. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960.

Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America, Volumes 1 and 2 [English Edition]. Edited by Eduardo Nolla. Translated by James T. Schleifer. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012.