Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
An intellectual history of British social policyIdealism versus non-idealism$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Offer

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9781861345318

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861345318.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
date: 22 August 2017

Free agent or ‘conscious automaton’? The individual in Spencer’s social theory

Free agent or ‘conscious automaton’? The individual in Spencer’s social theory

(p.53) three Free agent or ‘conscious automaton’? The individual in Spencer’s social theory
An intellectual history of British social policy

John Offer

Policy Press

This chapter explores Herbert Spencer's complex interpretation of individuals and social life. It is primarily concerned with how Spencer understood ‘social individuals’ and ‘social life’, and to comment in this light on some recent interpretations of Spencer on moral and political ideas. It also tries to show that Spencerian individuals are psychically and socially so constituted as to be only indirectly responsive to moral suasion. David Weinstein's valuable interpretation of Spencer's equal freedom principle and its relationship to the principles of conduct and consequences has been recognised, and his own and Richard Hiskes' comments on beneficence have also been welcomed critically.

Keywords:   Herbert Spencer, social theory, social individuals, social life, equal freedom principle, David Weinstein, Richard Hiskes

University Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .