My humble conservatism post kicked up some lively commentary, so I'm going to try the brevity thing again - though I don't think it really suits me.
It is sometimes suggested that conservatism is a 'temperament'. Now I must confess that I haven't read many of the sustained treatments - by Oakeshott, Scruton, Kristol and others - in this vein. But I'm sort of thinking about undertaking a minor course of study. And here's a question I would like answered. A temperament is, in an obvious sort of way, not reason-giving. Specifically, the fact that you have a certain temperament - which causes you to believe certain things - does not give me any reason to believe those things. But surely conservatism is supposed to be reason-giving.
Not clear what I'm saying? Compare: if Smith tends to weep at the thought of the plight of the poor (this is his temperament) he may be caused to become a socialist. If Jones does not tend to cry at the plight of the poor, the fact that Smith is so lachrymose gives Jones no reason to become a socialist. Why should the fact that some people like things to stay the same give other people a reason to keep them the same?
Like last time, this is way too simple. But at least it's simple.I'll just pad it out with a nice passage from Mill's On Liberty I stumbled on today while preparing to teach that fine little book in 10 days time: