The author would like to Julian Franklin and the anonymous American Journal of Political Science reviewers for their many helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Milton's Case for a Free Commonwealth
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2005
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 49, Issue 3, pages 466–478, July 2005
How to Cite
Lovett, F. (2005), Milton's Case for a Free Commonwealth. American Journal of Political Science, 49: 466–478. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2005.00135.x
- Issue published online: 18 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 18 MAY 2005
This article will examine the development of John Milton's arguments for democracy as against monarchy and other sorts of autocratic rule. These arguments are interesting both in their own right and insofar as they shed light on historiographical debates concerning the classical republican tradition. Milton is shown to hold a negative conception of liberty, as opposed to a positive or participatory conception, which lends support to the neo-roman interpretation of that tradition, associated with Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit. However, it is further shown that Sinner and Pettit misunderstand the classical republicans' case for democracy, attributing to them a conceptual argument in place of an empirical one. A better understanding of Milton's political theory contributes to a better understanding of this dilemma, and perhaps suggests a solution.