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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

To contact the IMEMS administrative office please use the following details:


T: 0191 334 2974

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details for Dr Maria Dimova-Cookson

Dimova-Cookson, Maria (2014). “Welfarist and Moral Justifications of the Strong State: Reconciling Hobhouse’s and Bosanquet’s Perspectives on the Role of the State”. In The Victorian Legacy in Political Thought. Marshall, Catherine & Guy, Stéphane Oxford: Peter Lang. 145-166.

Author(s) from Durham


The paper traces the legacy of late Victorian and early Edwardian political thought in
the shaping contemporary political values and theories. Nowadays the debate on the
desirability of big government is highly heated, even though the welfare state has
become part of the western political establishment, and it would be of interest to see
the arguments through which the advocacy of the strong state was conducted in its
early stages. Two sets of such arguments are studied in more detail: the welfarist
arguments of L.T.Hobhouse and the moral arguments of Bernard Bosanquet. The two
thinkers shared the judgement that their beliefs and ideas were incompatible as each
of them balanced the demands for liberty with the justification for the strong state in a
different way. I argue that in spite of these authors’ mutual disagreement, their
arguments were supplementary: more specifically that the idealist metaphysics behind
Bosanquet’s moral argument offered resolution to the problems of Hobhouse’s
welfarist project. The philosophical exchange between the two thinkers is of interest
from the point of view how political theory has developed throughout the twentieth
and twenty first centuries. Hobhouse’s critique of Bosanquet’s moral theory of the
state anticipates the negative liberalism of the latter haft of twentieth century.
Bosanquet’s argumentation, in turn, anticipates the late twentieth century
communitarian challenge to this form of liberalism as well as the twenty first century theorisation of ethical particularism underpinning the national-cosmopolitan debates.

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