British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Analytic Conservatism

a1 Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University
a2 Economics, University of Southampton


We propose an analytic account of dispositional conservatism that attempts to uncover a foundation of what is often taken to be an anti-foundationalist position. We identify a bias in favour of the status quo as a key component of the conservative disposition and address the question of the justification of such a conservative disposition, and the circumstances in which the widespread adoption of such a disposition might be normatively desirable. Our analysis builds on a structural link between the economist's traditional emphasis on questions of feasibility and the conservative's attachment to the status quo.


a This article has benefited from the comments of a number of seminar audiences, the participants in a colloquium on ‘the status of the status quo’ in Blacksburg, Virginia, three referees, and an Editor of this Journal.