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3. The Core Doctrines of Conservatism

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about some of the core beliefs of conservatism, focusing in particular on: (i) the changeability of conservatism over time, and its variability in different contexts; (ii) the two ‘core ideas’ of conservatism – the idea that conservatism is a “disposition” rather than an ideology, and the idea that humans are not perfectible; and (iii) eight principles of conservatism that derive from these two core ideas, e.g. the importance of private property, an antipathy towards great schemes of reform, etc.


In this course, Professor Jeremy Jennings (King’s College, London) explores the history of conservatism as a political philosophy, from its beginnings in the 18th century to election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in December 2019. In the two modules, we think about what caused conservatism to emerge in the 18th century, focusing first on general trends and then on one particular triggering event. In the third module, we outline some of the core doctrines of conservatism – the first of which is its ability to adapt to changing circumstances – before moving on in the fourth, fifth and sixth modules to think about the development of conservatism through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, up to the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in December 2019.


Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at King's College, London. His research focuses upon the history of political thought in France. He is presently finishing a book provisionally entitled Travels with Tocqueville and is acting as co-editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of French Thought. A larger, long-term project is to write a history of the concept of liberty.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Jennings, J. (2020, December 24). Conservatism - The Core Doctrines of Conservatism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Jennings, J. "Conservatism – The Core Doctrines of Conservatism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Dec 2020,