ABSTRACT

This chapter interprets the relationship between Green's political theory and the practice of Victorian liberalism in a way which reverses the perspective adopted by these studies. Green criticized the dominant empiricist strand in British philosophy, and utilitarianism and evolutionism in particular, because he believed a moral theory based on these foundations was incapable of providing an adequate account of why the individual should act in the manner Victorian liberals prescribed. The authors have the ability to change our wants and needs according to the aspirations and values they hold, people are willing to die for a cause, being capable of renouncing life itself for a higher goal. Green insisted that personal development entailed this becoming the goal of society as a whole. Green's main departure from traditional liberalism arose from his insistence that they have an obligation to provide these conditions.