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Edmund Burkes Political Theory 1 Burke is quite critical of many of the liberal political theorist that have we have discussed For Burke terms like liberty freedom natural rights and the General Will should not be used in abstraction They can only be discussed in context and more importantly they can only be implemented in the appropriate historical context eg England in the seventeenth century but not France in the eighteenth century Consent and Contract 2 One of the most distinctive points of difference between the liberal and conservative centres over the ideas of consent and contract For the liberal government is formed at least hypothetically by men organising to establish a government will clear limits to protect individual rights For Burke the contract is too shaky a foundation for government Government is instituted to serve mans wants and needs but we are frequently unaware of our true wants and needs We fail to recognise what is in our best interests or on other occasion we are the victim of our own passions and drives There is a need for a power outside of us a power that we do not consent to that will restrain our passions 3 The science of government being therefore so practical in itself and intended for such practical purposes a matter which requires experience and more experience than any one person can gain in whole life however intelligently and observing he may be it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society or on the building it up again without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes Ebenstein p 496 4 Burke tells us to rely on the experience of centuries of political practice No single individual no matter how extensive the studies of a
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