Oakeshott as Conservative

Rob Devigne (or maybe it’s really Jack Nicholson) looks at Oakeshott’s ostensibly conservative stance – as several in this volume point out, this is very tricky territory indeed. Oakeshott is not a conservative that even most self-avowed conservatives would typically recognise.

The identification of Michael Oakeshott with conservatism is fraught with debate. To be sure, some analysts consider Oakeshott to be the modern incarnation of Burke. Moreover, during the closing decades of the twentieth century, conservative thinkers in the United Kingdom made the greatest claims to Oakeshott. Yet, different features of Oakeshott’s thought have made it possible for him to be read as a liberal, pragmatist, historicist, existentialist, postmodernist, as well as, a conservative.  What, then, is conservative in Oakeshott’s political philosophy?