pp. 85-102: Spartaco Pupo

Politica e innovazione nel conservatorismo “scettico” di Michael Oakeshott


This paper provides an overview of Oakeshott’s vision of the innovation in politics within his doctrine of political conservatism. Against any rationalist conception of innovation as change produced by a “dream of perfection”, Oakeshott’s idea of innovation is part of a skeptical conception of political power that assigns relevance to the continuity of tradition and prevents inventions, sudden changes, intellectual vagaries and theoretical whims. For Oakeshott, the conservative disposition in politics rejects induced and unnatural changes because it treats them as a deprivation of the things that it has deeply enjoyed. Hence the preference of conservative politicians for a slow and gradual change, imposed by contingency, that aims to preserve the cultural identity and the social and institutional order. The paper concludes with a comparison on the theme of innovation between the Oakeshott’s political skepticism and the position of the most influential conservative thinkers of the twentieth century.

Keywords: Conservatism – Anti-rationalism – Contingency – Skepticism – Tradition

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