ISAIAH DAVID WEXLER, Fordham University


Edmund Burke, an English philosopher and politician, wrote extensively on the subject of property. However, in the secondary literature on Burke, there is only limited discussion of Burke's theory of property. The study presented in this dissertation is meant to fill that gap. In preparing this study, the author read through the entire works of Edmund Burke including his published writings, speeches, and correspondence. The author then categorized the different usages of the term property as it appears in Burke's writings. The author made use of secondary sources both with reference to Burke's political philosophy, in general, and his theory of property, in particular. In the course of the research, the author found that the most appropriate method of discovering how Burke conceived of property was to examine the context and circumstances in which Burke made his statements about property. To present his findings, the author divided the study into two parts. The first part was a chronological presentation of the development of Burke's theory of property. The second part was an examination of how Burke's concept of property can be integrated into the rest of his political philosophy. The author concluded that Burke's theory of property could be divided into several levels with property having different connotations for each level. On the highest level, property is an abstract idea. It is the cause for people associating with each other and forming society. In addition, the principal institutions of society, the state and the church, were legitimized by the laws of property, and any changes in their structure had to be in accord with those principles. On a second and lower level, Burke saw property, primarily landed property, as offering its owners certain advantages in terms of breeding and outlook. Because of this, Burke believed that property owners were eminently qualified to serve in positions of leadership. On yet another level, Burke defined the close relationship between property and political stability. Stability was important if society was to achieve its goal of fostering human perfection. What enhanced stability was a firm base of power rooted in landed property.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

WEXLER, ISAIAH DAVID, "BURKE'S CONCEPT OF PROPERTY (ENGLAND)" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8323552.