Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Argument of Sidney's Discourses - Discourses Concerning Government
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
The Argument of Sidney’s Discourses - Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government 
Discourses Concerning Government, ed. Thomas G. West (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1996).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Argument of Sidney’s Discourses
Sidney wrote Discourses Concerning Government in response to a book by Sir Robert Filmer defending the divine and natural right of kings to absolute rule. Filmer’s book, Patriarcha: A Defence of the Natural Power of Kings against the Unnatural Liberty of the People, was first published in 1680, though it had been written much earlier.
Sidney appears to have written the Discourses between 1681 and 1683. The manuscript was first published in 1698, fifteen years after Sidney’s death. The Discourses as we have it is a nearly complete draft of a chapter-by-chapter refutation of Filmer. It is therefore helpful to know something of Filmer’s argument and its context before reading Sidney.