a1 University of Otago, N.Z.
There are, I think, three distinct senses in which Rousseau uses the term “general will.” He means by it, as the nineteenth century Idealists used to point out, something very like Kant's “good will,” which all men have in common and which cannot conflict with itself. But he also means, quite as often, the Utilitarian compromise, The mean between divergent interests which takes account of all of them and satisfies as many as possible. And, thirdly, he means something like the “culture pattern” of the modern anthropologists. I want to show that Green inherits this ambiguity, and that his argument in the Principles of Political Obligation is plausible only because he does not distinguish between these three meanings of “general will.”