Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Blair, J. A.





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


British philosopher William Godwin (1756--1836), in the tradition of the French Enlightenment, held a supreme faith in the power of reason and truth to improve Society and the human condition. In an Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Happiness and Morals, Godwin searched for the most effective method of attaining the general happiness. His investigation included both public and political forms of society. Through these inquiries he concluded that the improvement of individuals offered the best hope for improving society itself. Moreover, Godwin linked the prospect for individual improvement with a communicative practice based on sincere and rational conversation. In this thesis, I reconstruct Godwin's theory of human perfectibility and social communication and argue that his account is both coherent and plausible. I consider objections that claim Godwin overemphasized the role of reason in improvement and that suggest his communicative ideal is unworkable. I also present Godwin in the social/historical context of 1790's England so that we might gain valuable insight into his proposals for social change.Dept. of Philosophy. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1999 .B375. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 40-03, page: 0573. Adviser: J. Anthony Blair. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1999.