This chapter discusses the views expressed by the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers on the subject of political resistance and revolution in the later eighteenth century—in practical terms, the revolutions in America and France. It begins by considering the philosophical opinions they published regarding the right to resist government in theory. It then analyses the views they expressed on the events in the American colonies and in France. It shows that the Scottish literati wrote with nuance and discernment about the idea of revolution. All of the Scottish philosophers who commented on the French Revolution recognized a greater degree of misgovernment in ancien régime France than they had observed in Britain’s constitutional monarchy and its American colonies; and the question of empire was significant in their responses to each case.
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