Dudley Knowles – Good Samaritans and Good Government

Event Date: 23 January 2012
Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU


The Aristotelian Society


Professor Dudley Knowles (Glasgow) – Good Samaritans and Good Government

In this paper I review and provide a qualified defence of Samaritanism—Christopher Heath Wellman’s novel approach to the old fashioned problem of political obligation. I outline Wellman’s theory, clarifying the details and defend an amended version against a variety of objections concerning, successively, an alleged conflation of duties of care and beneficence, a difficulty concerning the distinction of perfect and imperfect duties, a problem deriving from the ‘particularity requirement’, and related issues deriving from the international applications of Samaritan values.

Dudley Knowles retired in July 2011 as Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He studied for his first degree at Bedford College, University of London, graduating in 1970. After a spell managing a hotel in Glencoe, he studied for a two-year thesis (MLitt) at the University of Glasgow, where he was appointed lecturer in 1973. He remained in Glasgow throughout his academic career. Although he has published on a variety of topics, his main interests have been in political philosophy and its history. He has published three books – Political Philosophy(2001), Hegel and The Philosophy of Right (2002) and Political Obligation (2010) – and edited several more. In retirement, he has continued to work on problems associated with political obligation and is preparing a second edition of Political Philosophy. He anticipates working on the nature and value of political freedom in his dotage.


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