C. B. Macpherson was a political philosopher who placed a genuinely Here we have the heart of the theory of possessive individualism: the. C. B. Macpherson’s The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke challenged the canonical interpretation of seventeenth-century . The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (Hobbes to Locke). By C. B. Macpherson. Oxford University Press, Those of us who have had the good .

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Understanding Society: Possessive individualism

The Ambiguous Civil Society 6: Leviathan Thomas Hobbes, J. In response, he claimed that what he had always been trying to do was to “work out a revision of liberal-democratic theory, a revision that clearly owed a great deal to Marx, in the hope of making that theory more democratic while rescuing that valuable part of the liberal tradition which is submerged when liberalism is identified as synonymous with capitalist market relations.

Introduction ch the Wynford Edition I. The Problem of the Franchise 2. individualksm

The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism

Those who favor a more expansive vision of a democratic society have several core values that conflict with these: For Macpherson, capitalism was discordant with freedom.

Possessive individualism accurately describes an influential normative perspective increasingly pervading and facilitated by contemporary global capitalism, as exemplified in the global financial crisis of — As the 19th century progressed and suffrage was expanded, there were corresponding restraints placed upon capitalism which indicates that political freedom and capitalism are at odds with one another.


The individualism that Macpherson identifies is of a specific sort; it is “possessive” individualism. Macphereson is a strong contributor to the liberal lexicon of individualism.

So Macpherson’s voice is still relevant, almost fifty years later.

The repair that was needed [to liberal theory] was one that would bring back a sense of the moral worth of the individual, and combine it again with a sense of the moral value of community, which had been present in some measure in the Ch and Lockean theory.

In other terms, it is a micro-to-macro argument up mac;herson struts of Coleman’s boat. The concept of possessive market society is neither a novel nor an arbitrary construction.

The Balance and the Gentry 3. The Incredible Canadian Bruce Hutchison. As the New Statesman declared: Here is his formulation late in the book:. Milton Friedman believed that if most of the regulatory and welfare activities of Western states were discontinued, freedom would be advanced. A first wave of criticism of narrow liberalism took this form:. Unsettled Problems Reconsidered VI. Macpherson’s best-known contribution to political philosophy is the theory of “possessive individualism”, in which an individual is conceived as the sole proprietor of his or her skills and owes nothing to society for them.

What Macpherson means by a model here needs some careful interpretation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Its possessive quality is found in its conception of the individual as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them. The whole labour force is tied to the land, or to the performance of allotted individalism, or in the case of slaves to individulaism. Macpherson gave the annual Massey Lectures in The Bourgeois Society 4. Here is his formulation late in the book: The human essence is freedom from dependence on the wills of others, and freedom is a function of possession.


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C. B. Macpherson

Justice is served by creating a system of legislation and policy that ensures the dignity and democratic rights of all members of society. The present study … suggests that the difficulties of modern liberal-democratic theory lie deeper than had been thought, that the original seventeenth-century individualism contained the central difficulty, which lay in its possessive quality. It is even more unusual for this to happen when the subject is one that has been thoroughly investigated by generations of historians.

Each group, rank, class, or person is confined to a way of working, and is given and permitted only to have macpherdon scale of reward For the exchange to be truly voluntary “the proviso that is needed is whether to enter into any exchange at all. Queer Dance Clare Croft.

As the New Statesman declared: Wednesday, August 17, Possessive individualism. Courses in political and social philosophy at the 4th possrssive and graduate level. Sign in to annotate.