Property, Liberty, and Self-Ownership in Seventeenth-Century England (Paperback)

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Property, Liberty, and Self-Ownership in Seventeenth-Century England By Lorenzo Sabbadini Cover Image

Property, Liberty, and Self-Ownership in Seventeenth-Century England (Paperback)


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The concept of self-ownership was first articulated in anglophone political thought in the decades between the outbreak of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution. This book traces the emergence and evolution of self-ownership over the course of this period, culminating in a reinterpretation of John Locke's celebrated but widely misunderstood idea that "every Man has a Property in his own Person." Often viewed through the prism of libertarian political thought, self-ownership has its roots in the neo-Roman or republican concept of liberty as freedom from dependence on the will of another. As Lorenzo Sabbadini reveals, seventeenth-century writers believed that the attainment of this status required not only a specific kind of constitution but a particular distribution of property as well. Many regarded the protection of private property as constitutive of liberty, and it is in this context that the vocabulary of self-ownership emerged. Others expressed anxieties about the corrupting effects of excessive concentrations of wealth or even the institution of private property itself. Bringing together canonical republican writers such as John Milton and James Harrington, lesser-known pamphleteers, and Locke, a theorist generally regarded as being at odds with neo-Roman thought, Property, Liberty, and Self-Ownership in Seventeenth-Century England is a bold, innovative study of some of the most influential concepts to emerge from this groundbreaking period of British history.
Lorenzo Sabbadini is a government lawyer at HM Treasury and an independent researcher specializing in early modern intellectual history.
Product Details ISBN: 9780228001690
ISBN-10: 0228001692
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2020
Pages: 336
Language: English
“Sabbadini's detailed and persuasive study of the discourses of property and self-ownership in mid-seventeenth-century England provides an important corrective to the Lockean idea of self-ownership in pursuit of the liberal tradition. But just as importantly, by tying property and self-ownership to slavery, he reveals how forms of economic dependence are working to undermine notions of individual freedom in contemporary society, with potentially explosive results.” Journal of British Studies

“Sabbadini, a government lawyer at HM Treasury in the UK, insightfully explores the meaning and association of liberty, property, and self-ownership from the English Civil War to the Glorious Revolution. In doing so, he sets the stage for a reinterpretation of property in John Locke's political thought and for a reevaluation of property's role in modern republican theories.” Choice

“This book is a major achievement, offering a novel and highly original account of property and liberty in seventeenth-century English republican thought. A brilliant piece of scholarship.” Markku Peltonen, University of Helsinki

“Sabbadini presents a carefully argued republican interpretation of the complex development of the ideas of self-ownership, property, and liberty in the major texts of English political thought. An important contribution to this richly contested field of study.” James Tully, University of Victoria

“Lorenzo Sabbadini's achievement is to show the centrality of a much less studied concept of the English Revolution: self-ownership. With rigorous argument and impeccable scholarship, Sabbadini sheds a flood of new light on key figures from the Levellers to John Locke.” David Armitage, Harvard University