Political Theory

The Idea of Liberty in the Burke-Paine Debate


The writings by Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine on the French Revolution reveal two conflicting theories of politics embodying dramatically different understandings of the nature, origins, and goals of civil society and government; the rights of the human person; and the nature and organizing principles of legitimate government. Thus, reading them together was useful in exploring perennial issues of liberty and responsibility.


From Liberty Fund

Select Works of Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France

by By Edmund Burke
Compiled and with a Foreword and Notes by Francis Canavan

Originally published by Oxford University Press in the 1890s, the famed three-volume Payne edition of Select Works is universally revered by students of English history and political thought. Faithfully reproduced in each volume are E. J. Payne’s notes and introductory essays. Francis Canavan, one of the great Burke scholars of…

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Further Reflections on the Revolution in France

by By Edmund Burke
Edited by Daniel E. Ritchie

In his famous Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Edmund Burke excoriated French revolutionary leaders for recklessly destroying France’s venerable institutions and way of life. But his war against the French intelligentsia did not end there, and Burke continued to take pen in hand against the Jacobins until his…

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Additional Readings

Paine, Thomas. Rights of Man. Edited by Gregory Claeys. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992.