Death of Political Philosopher William Godwin, Leading Proponent of Minimalist Government

Death of Political Philosopher William Godwin, Leading Proponent of Minimalist Government

William Godwin
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English political philosopher William Godwin dies in London.

Raised a Calvinist, William Godwin became a leading proponent of minimalist government by relying on the un-Calvinist belief that there is no such thing as original sin to taint human nature. Instead, Godwin came to believe that humans will do what is good and just so long as the path to do so is open to them.

William Godwin argued that the larger a government becomes, the more corrupt it becomes and, moreover, the more of a hinderance it becomes for people to choose to do what is good and just. Thus Godwin wrote: "government by its very nature counteracts the improvement of original mind."

This is why William Godwin became an important political philosopher for anarchism, though it's not clear that he ever advocated for the abolition of all government entirely.

In 1797 William Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft and they had one daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Better known as Mary Shelley, she is famous as the author of the novel Frankenstein.

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William Godwin

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