William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners

Andrew McCann (Dartmouth College)
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The publication of

Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

in 1793 put William Godwin at center of radical political culture. He had been thinking about this book since 1791, when Thomas Paine published

Rights of Man

in response to Edmund Burke's

Reflections on the Revolution in France

(1790). Unlike Paine's text and numerous other responses to Burke's attack on Richard Price and the Revolution Society, Godwin's

Political Justice

is a work of political-philosophy, rather than a direct contribution to a political controversy. In fact the length of the text and its price (at over £1 it was a comparatively expensive book) seemed to suggest that it would not be as popularly accessible as

Rights of Man

. It was this that probably spared Godwin prosecution by a government increasingly anxious about…

2105 words

Citation: McCann, Andrew. "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5358, accessed 05 March 2024.]

5358 Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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