Roger Scruton

From New World Encyclopedia

Roger Scruton
Roger Scruton by Pete Helme.jpg
BornRoger Vernon Scruton
February 27 1944(1944-02-27)
Buslingthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
DiedJanuary 12 2020 (aged 75)
Brinkworth, Wiltshire, England
Alma materMA (philosophy, 1962–1965),
PhD (aesthetics, 1967–1972),
Jesus College Cambridge
OccupationPhilosopher, writer
Known forTraditionalist conservatism
Spouse(s)Danielle Laffitte (m. 1973; div. 1979)
Sophie Jeffreys (m. 1996)

Sir Roger Vernon Scruton FBA FRSL (February 27, 1944 - January 12, 2020) was an English philosopher and writer who specialized in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views despite suffering vehement opposition from colleagues and the media alike whose embrace of left-wing cultural ideas were threatened by his articulation of conservatism as defense of collective memory, freedom, and humanity.

Scruton embraced conservatism after witnessing the May 1968 student protests in France. From 1971 to 1992 he was a lecturer and professor of aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London, after which he held several part-time academic positions, including in the United States. In the 1980s he helped to establish underground academic networks in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, for which he was awarded the Czech Republic's Medal of Merit (First Class) by President Václav Havel in 1998.

Editor from 1982 to 2001 of The Salisbury Review, a conservative political journal, Scruton wrote over 50 books on philosophy, art, music, politics, literature, culture, sexuality, and religion; he also wrote novels and two operas. His most notable publications include The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), Sexual Desire (1986), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), and How to Be a Conservative (2014). He was a regular contributor to the popular media, including The Times, The Spectator, and the New Statesman.

Scruton was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for "services to philosophy, teaching and public education." His clear, erudite thinking written in beautiful prose on the most challenging topics facing society during his lifetime form a legacy of great value to humankind.

Early life

Family background

Roger Vernon Scruton was born in Buslingthorpe, Lincolnshire, to John "Jack" Scruton, a teacher from Manchester, and his wife, Beryl Claris Scruton (née Haynes). He was raised with his two sisters in High Wycombe and Marlow.[1]

The Scruton surname had been acquired relatively recently. Jack's father's birth certificate showed him as Matthew Lowe, after Matthew's mother, Margaret Lowe (Scruton's great grandmother); the document made no mention of a father. However, Margaret Lowe had decided, for reasons unknown, to raise her son as Matthew Scruton instead. Scruton wondered whether she had been employed at the former Scruton Hall in Scruton, Yorkshire, and whether that was where her child had been conceived.[2]

Jack was raised in an inner-city area of Manchester, and won a scholarship to grammar school.[2] Scruton said that his father hated the upper classes and loved the countryside, while he described his mother as "cherishing an ideal of gentlemanly conduct and social distinction that ... [his] father set out with considerable relish to destroy."[3]

The Scrutons lived in a pebble-dashed semi-detached house in Hammersley Lane, High Wycombe. Although his parents had been brought up as Christians, they regarded themselves as humanists, so home was a "religion-free zone."[4] Scruton's, indeed the whole family's, relationship with his father was difficult. He wrote in Gentle Regrets: "Friends come and go, hobbies and holidays dapple the soulscape like fleeting sunlight in a summer wind, and the hunger for affection is cut off at every point by the fear of judgement."[3]


After passing his 11-plus, Scruton attended the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe from 1954 to 1962,[5] leaving with three A-levels, in pure and applied mathematics, physics, and chemistry, which he passed with distinction. The results won him an open scholarship in natural sciences to Jesus College, Cambridge, as well as a state scholarship. Scruton writes that he was expelled from the school shortly afterwards, when during one of Scruton's plays the headmaster found the school stage on fire and a half-naked girl putting out the flames.[3] When he told his family he had won a place at Cambridge, his father stopped speaking to him.[6]

Having intended to study natural sciences at Cambridge, where he felt "although socially estranged (like virtually every grammar-school boy), spiritually at home,"[3] Scruton switched on the first day to moral sciences (philosophy).[1] His supervisor was A. C. Ewing.[7] He graduated with a double first in 1965.[5] then spent time overseas, some of it teaching at the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour in Pau, France, where he met his first wife, Danielle Laffitte.[8] He also lived in Rome.[7] His mother died around this time; she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a mastectomy just before he went to Cambridge.[3]

In 1967 he began studying for his PhD at Jesus College, and then became a research fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge (1969–1971), where he lived with Laffitte when she was not in France.[8] It was while visiting her during the May 1968 student protests that Scruton first embraced conservatism. He was in the Latin Quarter in Paris, watching students overturn cars, smash windows and tear up cobblestones, and for the first time in his life "felt a surge of political anger":[3]

I suddenly realised I was on the other side. What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilization against these things. That's when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down.[1]


Birkbeck, first marriage

From 1971 Scruton taught philosophy at Birkbeck College, London, which specializes in adult education and holds its classes in the evening.[3] Meanwhile Laffitte taught French at Putney High School, and the couple lived together in a Harley Street apartment previously occupied by Delia Smith.[8]

Cambridge awarded Scruton his PhD in January 1973 for a thesis entitled "Art and imagination, a study in the philosophy of mind," supervised by Michael Tanner and Elizabeth Anscombe. The thesis was the basis of his first book, Art and Imagination (1974).

Scruton married Laffitte in September 1973 at the Brompton Oratory, a Catholic church in Knightsbridge. They divorced in 1979.[1] Scruton's second book, The Aesthetics of Architecture, was published that year.

Birkbeck was known for its embrace of left-wing politics; Scruton said he was the only conservative there, except for the woman who served meals in the Senior Common Room.[3] Working there left Scruton's days free, so he used the time to study law at the Inns of Court School of Law (1974–1976) and was called to the Bar in 1978;[5] he never practiced law because he was unable to take a year off work to complete a pupillage.[3]

In 1974, along with Hugh Fraser, Jonathan Aitken, and John Casey, he became a founding member of the Conservative Philosophy Group dining club, which aimed to develop an intellectual basis for conservatism.[3] The historian Hugh Thomas and the philosopher Anthony Quinton attended meetings, as did Margaret Thatcher before she became prime minister. She reportedly said during one meeting in 1975: "The other side have got an ideology they can test their policies against. We must have one as well."[9]

Scruton's academic career at Birkbeck was blighted by his conservatism, particularly by his third book, The Meaning of Conservatism (1980),[10] and later by his editorship of the conservative Salisbury Review.[3] His colleagues at Birkbeck vilified him over the book—which he called "a somewhat Hegelian defence of Tory values in the face of their betrayal by the free marketeers"[3]—and which was responsible for blighting his academic career.[6] The Marxist philosopher G.A. Cohen of University College London reportedly refused to teach a seminar with Scruton, although they later became friends. He taught at Birkbeck until 1992, first as a lecturer, by 1980 as reader, then as professor of aesthetics.[8]

The Salisbury Review

Scruton in Prague, 2015

In 1982 Scruton became founding editor of The Salisbury Review, a journal championing traditional conservatism, which he edited until 2001.[11][12] The Review was set up by a group of Tories known as the Salisbury Group—founded in 1978 by Diana Spearman and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil[13]—with the involvement of the Peterhouse Right. The latter were conservatives associated with the Cambridge college, including Maurice Cowling, David Watkin and the mathematician Adrian Mathias.[1][14]

Scruton wrote that editing The Salisbury Review effectively ended his academic career in the United Kingdom. The magazine sought to provide an intellectual basis for conservatism, and was highly critical of key issues of the period, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, egalitarianism, feminism, foreign aid, multiculturalism, and modernism. To begin with, Scruton had to write most of the articles himself, using pseudonyms: "I had to make it look as though there was something there in order that there should be something there!"[8] He believed that the Review "helped a new generation of conservative intellectuals to emerge. At last it was possible to be a conservative and also to the left of something, to say 'Of course, the Salisbury Review is beyond the pale; but ...'"[3]

In 1984 the Review published a controversial article by Ray Honeyford, a headmaster in Bradford, questioning the benefits of multicultural education.[15] Honeyford was forced to retire because of the article and had to live for a time under police protection.[16] The British Association for the Advancement of Science accused the Review of scientific racism, and the University of Glasgow philosophy department boycotted a talk Scruton had been invited to deliver to its philosophy society. Scruton believed that the incidents made his position as a university professor untenable, although he also maintained that "it was worth sacrificing your chances of becoming a fellow of the British Academy, a vice-chancellor or an emeritus professor for the sheer relief of uttering the truth."[11] In 2002 he described the effect of the editorship on his life:

It cost me many thousand hours of unpaid labour, a hideous character assassination in Private Eye, three lawsuits, two interrogations, one expulsion, the loss of a university career in Britain, unendingly contemptuous reviews, Tory suspicion, and the hatred of decent liberals everywhere. And it was worth it.[11]


The 1980s established Scruton as a prolific writer. Thirteen of his non-fiction works appeared between 1980 and 1989, as did first novel, Fortnight's Anger (1981). The most contentious publication was Thinkers of the New Left (1985), a collection of his essays from The Salisbury Review, which criticized 14 prominent intellectuals, including E. P. Thompson, Michel Foucault, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The book was remaindered after being greeted with "derision and outrage."[17] In 1987 he founded his own publisher, The Claridge Press, which he sold to the Continuum International Publishing Group in 2002.

From 1983 to 1986 he wrote a weekly column for The Times. Topics included music, wine, and motorbike repair, but others were contentious. Scruton made fun of anti-racism and the peace movement, and his support for Margaret Thatcher while she was prime minister was regarded, he wrote, as an "act of betrayal for a university teacher."[8] His first column published on January 4, 1983, "Why politicians are all against real education," argued that universities were destroying education "by making it relevant":

Replace pure by applied mathematics, logic by computer programming, architecture by engineering, history by sociology. The result will be a new generation of well-informed philistines, whose charmlessness will undo every advantage which their learning might otherwise have conferred.[8]

Activism in Central Europe

Scruton on "Europe and the Conservative Cause", Budapest, September 2016

From 1979 to 1989, Scruton was an active supporter of dissidents in Czechoslovakia under Communist Party rule, forging links between the country's dissident academics and their counterparts in Western universities. As part of the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, he and other academics visited Prague and Brno, now in the Czech Republic, in support of an underground education network started by the Czech dissident Julius Tomin, smuggling in books, organizing lectures, and eventually arranging for students to study for a Cambridge external degree in theology (the only faculty that responded to the request for help).[18] There were structured courses and samizdat translations, books were printed, and people sat exams in a cellar with papers smuggled out through the diplomatic bag.[19]

Scruton was detained in 1985 in Brno before being expelled from the country. The Czech dissident Bronislava Müllerová watched him walk across the border with Austria:

There was this broad empty space between the two border posts, absolutely empty, not a single human being in sight except for one soldier, and across that broad empty space trudged an English philosopher, Roger Scruton, with his little bag into Austria.[18]

On June 17 that year, he was placed on the Index of Undesirable Persons.

For his work in supporting dissidents, Scruton was awarded the First of June Prize in 1993 by the Czech city of Plzeň, and in 1998 he was awarded the Czech Republic's Medal of Merit (First Class) by President Václav Havel.[18] In 2019 the Polish government awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.[20]

His experience of dissident intellectual life in 1980s Communist Prague is recorded in fictional form in his novel Notes from Underground (2014). He wrote in 2019 that "despite the appeal of the Poles, Hungarians, Romanians and many more, it is the shy, cynical Czechs to whom I lost my heart and from whom I have never retrieved it."[21]


Farm purchase, second marriage

Scruton took a year's sabbatical from Birkbeck in 1990 and spent it working in Brno in the Czech Republic.

From 1992 to 1995 he lived in Boston, Massachusetts, teaching an elementary philosophy course and a graduate course on the philosophy of music for one semester a year, as professor of philosophy at Boston University. Two of his books grew out of these courses: Modern Philosophy: A Survey (1994) and The Aesthetics of Music (1997). In 1993 he bought Sunday Hill Farm in Brinkworth, Wiltshire—35 acres later increased to 100, and a 250-year-old farmhouse—where he lived after returning from the United States. He called it "Scrutopia."[17]

While in Boston, Scruton had flown back to England every weekend to indulge his passion for fox hunting, and it was during a meet of the Beaufort Hunt that he met Sophie Jeffreys, an architectural historian.[1] They announced their engagement in The Times in September 1996 (Jeffreys was described as "the youngest daughter of the late Lord Jeffreys and of Annie-Lou Lady Jeffreys"), married later that year, and set up home on Sunday Hill Farm.[3] They had two children: Sam, born in 1998, and Lucy, born in 2000. In 1999 they created Horsell's Farm Enterprises, a PR firm that included Japan Tobacco International and Somerfield Stores as clients.[22]

Tobacco company funding

Scruton was criticized in 2002 for having written articles about smoking without disclosing that he was receiving a regular fee from Japan Tobacco International (JTI). In 1999 he and his wife—as part of their consultancy work for Horshells Farm Enterprises<—began producing a quarterly briefing paper, The Risk of Freedom Briefing (1999–2007), about the state's control of risk. Distributed to journalists, the paper included discussions about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and was sponsored by JTI.[23]

Scruton wrote several articles in defense of smoking around this time, for such reputable publications as The Times, New Scientist, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote a 65-page pamphlet for the Institute of Economic Affairs, WHO, What, and Why: Trans-national Government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organisation (2000), which criticized the World Health Organization's campaign against smoking, arguing that transnational bodies should not seek to influence domestic legislation because they are not answerable to the electorate.[24]

In 2002 it came to light that Scruton had been writing about these issues while failing to disclose that he was receiving £54,000 a year from JTI.[25] In response, the Financial Times ended his contract as a columnist, The Wall Street Journal suspended his contributions, the Institute for Economic Affairs said it would introduce an author-declaration policy, Chatto & Windus withdrew from negotiations for a book, and Birkbeck removed his visiting-professor privileges.[8]

Move to the United States

The Scrutons owned Montpelier, near Sperryville, Virginia, from 2004 to 2009.

The tobacco controversy damaged Scruton's consultancy business in England. In part because of that, and because the Hunting Act 2004 had banned fox hunting in England and Wales, the Scrutons considered moving to the United States permanently. In 2004 they purchased Montpelier, an eighteenth-century plantation house near in Virginia.[8] The couple lived there while retaining Sunday Hill Farm, but decided in 2009 against a permanent move to the United States and sold the house. Scruton held two part-time academic positions during this period. From 2005 to 2009 he was research professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia, a graduate school of Divine Mercy University; and in 2009 he worked at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he wrote his book Green Philosophy (2011).[8]

Wine, opera

From 2001 to 2009 Scruton wrote a wine column for the New Statesman, and contributed to The World of Fine Wine and Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine (2007), with his essay "The Philosophy of Wine". His book I Drink Therefore I am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine (2009) in part comprises material from his New Statesman column.[26]

Scruton also wrote three libretti, two set to music. The first is a one-act chamber piece, The Minister (1994), and the second a two-act opera, Violet (2005). The latter, based on the life of the British harpsichordist Violet Gordon-Woodhouse, was performed twice at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 2005.[5]


Academic posts, knighthood

The Scrutons returned from the United States to live at Sunday Hill Farm in Wiltshire. He began an unpaid three-year visiting professorship at the University of Oxford to teach graduate classes on aesthetics, and was made a senior research fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.[5] In 2010 he delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews on "The Face of God,"[27] and from 2011 until 2014 he held a quarter-time professorial fellowship at St Andrews in moral philosophy.[28]

He published two novels during this period: Notes from Underground (2014), based on his experiences in Czechoslovakia, and The Disappeared (2015), dealing with child trafficking in a Yorkshire town.[29]

Scruton was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours.[30] He sat on the editorial board of the British Journal of Aesthetics and served on the board of visitors of Ralston College, a new college proposed in Savannah, Georgia.[31] and was a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.[32]

Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

In November 2018, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire appointed Scruton as unpaid chair of the British government's Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, established to promote better home design.[33] Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs objected because of statements Scruton had made in the past. Conservative MPs supported his appointment, with Brokenshire defending the appointment and saying that "ministers did not have to agree with all Sir Roger's strong and controversial views, some of which he said he had changed his mind on, to recognise the contribution he could make." [34]

In April 2019, George Eaton's interview with Scruton appeared in the New Statesman, and Eaton posted extracts from the interview on Twitter, of Scruton talking about Soros, Chinese people and Islam, among other topics, and referred to them as "a series of outrageous remarks."[35] Immediately after the interview and Eaton's posts went online, Scruton began to be criticized by various politicians and journalists; hours later, Brokenshire dismissed Scruton from the Commission.[36]

On April 27, Douglas Murray, who had obtained a recording of the interview, published details of it in The Spectator, and wrote that Eaton had conducted a "hit job." The audio showed that both the tweets and Eaton's article had omitted relevant context. For example, Scruton had said: "Anybody who doesn't think that there's a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts," but the article omitted: "it's not necessarily an empire of Jews; that's such nonsense."[37]

Two months later, the New Statesman officially apologized.[38] Several days later, Brokenshire also apologized, and a week later Scruton was re-appointed as co-chair of the commission.[39]


After learning in July 2019 that he had cancer, Scruton underwent treatment, including chemotherapy.[21] Six months later, on January 12, 2020, he died at the age of 75.[40]

Philosophical and political views

Scruton specialized in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views.


Trained in analytic philosophy, Scruton was drawn to other traditions:

I remain struck by the thin and withered countenance that philosophy quickly assumes, when it wanders away from art and literature, and I cannot open a journal like Mind or The Philosophical Review without experiencing an immediate sinking of the heart, like opening a door into a morgue.[41]

Aesthetics became his career-long specialization: He taught aesthetics at Birkbeck College from 1971 to 1992; His PhD thesis formed the basis of his first book, Art and Imagination (1974), in which he argued that "what demarcates aesthetic interest from other sorts is that it involves the appreciation of something for its own sake."[7] He subsequently published The Aesthetics of Architecture (1979), The Aesthetic Understanding (1983), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), and Beauty (2010). In 2008 a two-day conference was held at Durham University, dedicated to the exploration and discussion of Scruton's work in the field,[42] which resulted in the 2012 publication of a collection of essays, Scruton's Aesthetics, edited by Andy Hamilton and Nick Zangwill.[43]

He argued that there is beauty in belonging, that everyday aesthetic judgment is profoundly rooted in a sense of community, not some sublime vision that is the domain of the artistic genius. Beautiful architecture, thus, is the result of an endeavor by a community to construct a shared space, a space that is first consecrated as sacred:

Who can doubt, on visiting Venice, that this abundant flower of aesthetic endeavor was rooted in faith and watered by penitential tears? Surely, if we want to build settlements today we should heed the lesson of Venice. We should begin always with an act of consecration, since we thereby put down the real roots of a community.[44]

Arguments for conservatism

Best known for his writing in support of conservatism, Scruton's intellectual heroes were Edmund Burke, Coleridge, Dostoevsky, Hegel, Ruskin, and T. S. Eliot.[45]

Scruton wrote in Gentle Regrets (2006) that he found several of Burke's arguments in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) persuasive. Although Burke was writing about revolution, not socialism, Scruton was persuaded that, as he put it, the utopian promises of socialism are accompanied by an abstract vision of the mind that bears little relation to the way most people think. Burke also convinced him that there is no direction to history, no moral or spiritual progress; that people think collectively toward a common goal only during crises such as war, and that trying to organize society this way requires a real or imagined enemy; hence, Scruton wrote, the strident tone of socialist literature.[3]

Scruton further argued, following Burke, that society is held together by authority and the rule of law, in the sense of the right to obedience, not by the imagined rights of citizens. Obedience, he wrote, is "the prime virtue of political beings, the disposition that makes it possible to govern them, and without which societies crumble into 'the dust and powder of individuality'." Real freedom does not stand in conflict with obedience, but is its other side.[3]

Scruton marked out the areas in which philosophical thinking is required if conservatism is to be intellectually persuasive. He argued that human beings are creatures of limited and local affections. Territorial loyalty is at the root of all forms of government where law and liberty reign supreme; every expansion of jurisdiction beyond the frontiers of the nation state leads to a decline in accountability.[46]

He opposed elevating the "nation" above its people, which would threaten rather than facilitate citizenship and peace. "Conservatism and conservation" are two aspects of a single policy, that of husbanding resources, including the social capital embodied in laws, customs, and institutions, and the material capital contained in the environment. He argued further that the law should not be used as a weapon to advance special interests.[46]

He viewed post-modernism as the claim that there are no grounds for truth, objectivity, and meaning, and that conflicts between views are therefore nothing more than contests of power. In practice, while the West is required to judge other cultures in their own terms, Western culture is adversely judged as ethnocentric and racist: "The very reasoning which sets out to destroy the ideas of objective truth and absolute value imposes political correctness as absolutely binding, and cultural relativism as objectively true."[46]

Scruton believed that true originality is only possible within a tradition, and that it is precisely in modern conditions—conditions of fragmentation, heresy, and unbelief—that the conservative project acquires its sense.[46]


Scruton was an Anglican. His book Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England (2013) defended the relevance of the Church of England. He contended, following Immanuel Kant, that human beings have a transcendental dimension, a sacred core exhibited in their capacity for self-reflection.[47]

In 2010, Scruton gave the Gifford Lectures on The Face of God, exploring the place of God in a disenchanted world permeated with atheist culture. His book defends a consecrated world against desecration, offering a vision of the religious way of life in a time of trial. He argued that the sacred and the transcendental are "real presences" through which human beings come to know themselves. In his view, God is to be understood through communion with fellow humans. He rejects the claim that there is no meaning or purpose in the natural world, suggesting that when we take the beauty in the natural world around us as a gift, we are able to understand God. Through the natural beauty of this world we can experience God's presence:

It is an attempt to see our relation to the world as we see our relation to each other – as reaching through the tissue of objects to the thing that they mean. I have suggested that we extend this way of relating beyond the society of our fellows to the whole of nature, finding subjectivity enfolded, as it were, in the world around us. If there is such a thing as the real presence of God among us, that is how his presence must be understood: not as an abstract system of law, but as a subjective view that takes in the world as a whole.[48]


The philosopher of religion, Christopher Hamilton, described Scruton's Sexual Desire (1986) as "the most interesting and insightful philosophical account of sexual desire" produced within analytic philosophy.[49] This book, which presents a conservative sexual ethic, had a powerful influence on discussions of sexual ethics. Martha Nussbaum credited Scruton with having provided "the most interesting philosophical attempt as yet to work through the moral issues involved in our treatment of persons as sex partners."[50]

In his essay, "Sexual morality and the liberal consensus" (1990), Scruton wrote that homosexuality is a perversion because the body of the homosexual's lover belongs to the same category as his own.[47] He therefore considered it justified to "instil in our children feelings of revulsion" towards homosexuality. Stafford argued that Scruton's view that children should be encouraged to feel revulsion for homosexuality is inconsistent with the ideas expressed in Sexual Desire.[51] Later, Scruton said that he would no longer defend the view that revulsion against homosexuality can be justified.[6]

He further argued that gay people have no children and consequently no interest in creating a socially stable future. He also challenged the idea that gay people should have the right to adopt.[52]

Animal rights

Scruton: rights imply obligations.

Scruton argued that for animals to have rights in the way humans have rights, they would also have to be "accorded not only the benefits of morality, but also the burdens, which are huge."[53]

He was critical of the Australian philosopher and animal rights advocate Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation (1975), stating that such works "contain little or no philosophical argument. They derive their radical moral conclusions from a vacuous utilitarianism that counts the pain and pleasure of all living things as equally significant and that ignores just about everything that has been said in our philosophical tradition about the real distinction between persons and animals."[54] Scruton accused animal rights advocates of "pre-scientific" anthropomorphism, attributing traits to animals that are Beatrix Potter-like, and where "only man is vile."[54]

In Animal Rights and Wrongs (2000), Scruton identifies three kinds of relationships of duty between humans and other animals: relationships with pets, who are given "honorary membership of the moral community"; with animals that are kept to be used in some way, "where we have a clear duty of care but we are not trying to establish quasi-personal relations"; and with wild animals.[55] Scruton grew to love hunting and enjoyed participating in a fox hunt after an accidental encounter in which the horse he was riding joined a passing hunting party: "My life divides into three parts: In the first I was wretched; in the second ill at ease; in the third hunting."[56]


Following the news of Roger Scruton's death, scholars, politicians, friends, and others paid tribute. While many emphasized his intellectual contributions to challenging topics, his efforts to aid countries suffering under Communism, and his friendship, his exceptional writing ability was never ignored: As well as being a clear thinker, Scruton was a beautiful prose stylist, reminding one of the pleasures of good writing.[57]

From Prime Minister Boris Johnson: "We have lost the greatest modern conservative thinker — who not only had the guts to say what he thought but said it beautifully."[58] Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan called him "the greatest conservative of our age," adding: "The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend."

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid referred to Scruton's work behind the Iron Curtain: "From his support for freedom fighters in Eastern Europe to his immense intellectual contribution to conservatism in the West, he made a unique contribution to public life."[58] Author and historian Anne Applebaum added: “In the 1980s, Roger Scruton organised money and books for dissidents in Eastern Europe. I was one of the student couriers who helped smuggle them ‘across the iron curtain.’ I am still grateful for what Roger did for them, and for me.”[59] Oxford University history professor Timothy Garton Ash paid tribute: "Saddened to hear news of death of Roger Scruton, a man of extraordinary intellect, learning and humour, great supporter of E European dissidents, and the kind of provocative, sometimes outrageous Conservative thinker that a truly liberal society should be glad to have challenging it."[59]

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said that Scruton's work on "building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy."[60]

The scholar and former politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali described him as a "dear and generous friend, who gave freely to those who sought advice and wisdom, and he expected little in return."[61] Another friend and colleague, Douglas Murray, paid tribute to Scruton's personal kindness, calling him "one of the kindest, most encouraging, thoughtful, and generous people you could ever have known."[62] Cabinet minister Michael Gove called Scruton "an enormously kind friend, an intellectual giant, a brilliantly clear and compelling writer, a beacon." He added, "Words cannot do justice to a man who used them so wonderfully and well."[59] While words may not be enough, these words express something of his impact: "He was Britain's greatest contemporary philosopher and also its most lyrical."[63]

Awards and Honors

Scruton received several honorary doctorates: from Adelphi University, New York, in 1995; from Masaryk University, Brno, in 1997; from Hillsdale College, Michigan, in 2012; and from European University of Tirana, Albania, in 2016.[5]

Scruton was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for "services to philosophy, teaching and public education."[64] His family accompanied him to the ceremony, which was performed by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.[59]

For his work with the Jan Hus Educational Foundation in communist Czechoslovakia, Scruton was awarded the First of June Prize in 1993 by the Czech city of Plzeň. In 1998 Václav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, presented him with the Medal of Merit (First Class).

Polish President Andrzej Duda presented Scruton with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in June 2019 "for supporting the democratic transformation in Poland."[65] In November that year, the Senate of the Czech Parliament awarded him a Silver Medal for his work in support of Czech dissidents.[66] The following month, during a ceremony in London, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán presented him with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Middle Cross.[67]

Selected works


  • Art And Imagination: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)
  • The Aesthetics of Architecture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979)
  • The Meaning of Conservatism (1980)
  • The Politics of Culture and Other Essays (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1981)
  • A Short History of Modern Philosophy (1982)
  • A Dictionary of Political Thought (1982)
  • The Aesthetic Understanding: Essays in the Philosophy of Art and Culture (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1983)
  • Kant (1982)
  • Untimely Tracts (1985)
  • Thinkers of the New Left (1985)
  • Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy of the Erotic (1986)
  • Spinoza (1987)
  • A Land Held Hostage: Lebanon and the West (1987)
  • Conservative Thinkers: Essays from The Salisbury Review (1988)
  • Philosopher on Dover Beach: Essays (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990)
  • Conservative Texts: An Anthology (ed.) (1992)
  • Modern Philosophy: A Survey (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994)
  • The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism (1995)
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy (1996); republished as Philosophy: Principles and Problems (2005)
  • The Aesthetics of Music (1997)
  • On Hunting (1998)
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture (1998); republished as Modern Culture (2005)
  • Spinoza (1998)
  • Animal Rights and Wrongs (2000)
  • England: An Elegy (2001)
  • The West and the Rest: Globalisation and the Terrorist Threat (2002)
  • Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • News From Somewhere: On Settling (2004)
  • The Need for Nations (2004)
  • Gentle Regrets: Thoughts from a Life (Continuum, 2005)
  • A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (2006)
  • Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Need to Defend the Nation State (2006)
  • Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged (Encounter Books, 2007)
  • Beauty (2009)
  • I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine (2009)
  • Understanding Music (2009)
  • The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope (2010)
  • Liberty and Civilization: The Western Heritage (2010)
  • Green Philosophy: How to Think Seriously About the Planet (2011); revised and republished as How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism (2012)
  • The Face of God: The Gifford Lectures (2012)
  • Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England (2012)
  • The Soul of the World (2014)
  • How to Be a Conservative (2014)
  • Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (2015)
  • The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung (2016)
  • Conversations with Roger Scruton (2016)
  • Where We Are (2017)
  • Confessions of a Heretic: Selected Essays (2017)
  • On Human Nature (2017)
  • Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition (2017)
  • Music As An Art (2018)


  • Fortnight's Anger: a novel (1981)
  • Francesca: a novel (1991)
  • A Dove Descending and Other Stories (1991)
  • Xanthippic Dialogues (1993)
  • Perictione in Colophon: Reflections of the Aesthetic Way of Life (2000)
  • Notes from Underground (2014)
  • The Disappeared (2015)
  • Souls in the Twilight: Stories of Loss (2018)


  • The Minister (1994).
  • Violet (2005)


  • Why Beauty Matters (BBC Two, 2009)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Nicholas Wroe, Thinking for England The Guardian, Oct 28, 2000. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Roger Scruton, England: An Elegy (London: Pimlico, 2001, ISBN 978-0826480750).
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Roger Scruton, Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life (London: Continuum, 2006, ISBN 978-0826480330).
  4. Roger Scruton, The New Humanism The American Spectator, March 10, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Curriculum Vitae
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Aida Edemariam, Roger Scruton: A pessimist's guide to life The Guardian, June 4, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Roger Scruton, "Working toward Art." In Andy Hamilton and Nick Zangwill, (eds.), Scruton's Aesthetics (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 978-0230251687).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Roger Scruton and Mark Dooley, Conversations with Roger Scruton (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016, ISBN 978-1472917096).
  9. Hugo Young, One of Us: A Biography of Mrs. Thatcher (London: Macmillan, 1989, ISBN 978-0333344392).
  10. Maxwell Goss, The Joy of Conservatism: An Interview with Roger Scruton, April 4, 2006. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Roger Scruton, My life beyond the pale The Spectator, September 21, 2002. Retrieved February 18. 2020.
  12. Roger Scruton, Conservative Thoughts: Essays from the Salisbury Review (London: The Claridge Press, 1988, ISBN 978-1870626552).
  13. Maurice Cowling, Mill and Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0521388726).
  14. Stephen Haseler, The Battle for Britain: Thatcher and the New Liberals (London: I.B. Tauris, 1990, ISBN 978-1850431480).
  15. Ray Honeyford, Education and Race—an Alternative View, The Daily Telegraph, August 27, 2006. (reprint of Honeyford's 1984 article). Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  16. Mark Halstead, Education, Justice, and Cultural Diversity: An Examination of the Honeyford Affair, 1984–85 (Barcombe: Falmer Press, 1988, ISBN 978-1850003939).
  17. 17.0 17.1 Tim Adams, Roger Scruton: 'Funnily enough, my father looked very like Jeremy Corbyn' The Guardian, October 4, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Barbara Day, The Velvet Philosophers (Claridge Press, 1999).
  19. Seán Hanley, The New Right in the New Europe: Czech Transformation and Right-wing politics, 1989–2006 (London: Routledge, 2011, ISBN 978-0415674898).
  20. Poland Bestows Honor on Philosopher Fired by British Govt Associated Press, June 4, 2019. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Roger Scruton, Roger Scruton: My 2019 The Spectator, December 21, 2019.
  22. About Us Horsell's Farm Enterprises.
  23. Risk of Freedom Briefing Powerbase. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  24. Roger Scruton, WHO, What, and Why: Trans-national government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organisation (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2000, ISBN 978-0255364874).
  25. Eric A. Feldman and Ronald Bayer, Unfiltered: Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health (Harvard University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0674013346).
  26. Anthony Quinn, I Drink Therefore I Am by Roger Scruton The Guardian, December 20, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  27. The Face of God. University of St Andrews Gifford Lectures, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  28. Roger Scruton appointed as quarter-time Professorial Fellow School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies, University of St Andrews. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  29. Douglas Murray, 'The truth is hard': an interview with Roger Scruton The Spectator, April 4, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  30. The 2016 Queen's Birthday Honours List Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  31. Board of Visitors Ralston College. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  32. Roger Scruton Ethics and Public Policy Center. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  33. Richard Waite, Traditionalist Roger Scruton to chair government's new 'beauty' watchdog Architects Journal, November 5, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  34. Academic Scruton's housing role defended BBC News, November 12, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  35. Peter Wilby, The Scruton Affair New Statesman, May 2, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  36. Patrick Maguire, James Brokenshire sacks Roger Scruton as government housing tsar New Statesman, April 10, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  37. Douglas Murray, The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job The Spectator, April 27, 2019.
  38. Sir Roger Scruton New Statesman, July 8, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  39. Douglas Murray, Roger Scruton gets his job back The Spectator, July 23, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  40. Roger Scruton: Conservative thinker dies at 75 BBC News, January 12, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  41. Roger Scruton, Confessions of a Sceptical Francophile Philosophy 87(4) (October 2012): 477–495. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  42. Scruton's Aesthetics. Department of Philosophy, Durham University. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  43. Andy Hamilton and Nick Zangwill, (eds.), Scruton's Aesthetics (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 978-0230251687).
  44. Roger Scruton, The Beauty of Belonging Plough Quarterly, October 22, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  45. Mark Dooley (ed.), The Roger Scruton Reader (London and New York: Continuum, 2011, ISBN 978-1441115386).
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (Bloomsbury Continuum; New edition, 2019, ISBN 978-1472965226).
  47. 47.0 47.1 Mark Dooley, Roger Scruton: The Philosopher on Dover Beach (London: Continuum, 2009, ISBN 978-1847060136).
  48. Roger Scruton, The Face of God (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2014, ISBN 978-1472912732).
  49. Raja Halwani, Alan Soble, Sarah Hoffman, and Jacob Held (eds.), The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, ISBN 978-1442261433).
  50. Marth Nussbaum, Objectification Philosophy and Public Affairs (October 1995). Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  51. J. Martin Stafford, The two minds of Roger Scruton Studies in Philosophy and Education, 11(2) (1991): 187–193. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  52. Roger Scruton, This 'right' for gays is an injustice to children The Daily Telegraph, January 28, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  53. Anja Steinbauer, Roger Scruton Interview Philosophy Now, 2000. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  54. 54.0 54.1 Roger Scruton, Animal Rights City Journal (Summer 2000). Retrieved February 2020.
  55. Roger Scruton, Animal Rights and Wrongs (Continuum, New edition, 2006, ISBN 978-0826494047).
  56. Roger Scruton, On Hunting (St. Augustines Press, 2002, ISBN 978-1587316005).
  57. Francis Phillips, Only religion could have inspired the beauties of Venice Catholic Herald, November 17, 2018.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Harrison Smith, Roger Scruton, British philosopher and conservative lightning rod, dies at 75 The Washington Post, January 14, 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 Tributes paid to 'unusually rich legacy' of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton Press Association, Surrey Comet, January 12, 2020.
  60. Clea Skopeliti, Sir Roger Scruton, conservative philosopher, dies at 75 The Guardian, January 12, 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  61. 'A perfect knight': Remembering Roger Scruton The Spectator, January 18, 2020.
  62. Douglas Murray, Roger Scruton: A man who seemed bigger than the age The Spectator, January 12, 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  63. Melanie Phillips, Roger Scruton Knew the Precious Value of Freedom The Times, January 13 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  64. Supplement: 61608 Page: B2 The London Gazette, June 11, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  65. Justin Weinberg, Scruton Honored by Polish Government Daily Nous, June 4, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  66. Daniela Lazarová, British philosopher Roger Scruton to receive Senate's Silver Medal award Radio Prague International, November 15, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  67. Orbán Lauds Sir Roger Scruton, 'Loyal Friend of Freedom-loving Hungarians' Hungary Today, December 4, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2020.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Cowling, Maurice. Mill and Liberalism. Cambridge University Press, 1990. ISBN 978-0521388726)
  • Day, Barbara. The Velvet Philosophers. Claridge Press, 1999. ISBN 978-1870626422
  • Dooley, Mark. Roger Scruton: The Philosopher on Dover Beach. London: Continuum, 2009. ISBN 978-1847060136
  • Dooley Mark, (ed.). The Roger Scruton Reader. London and New York: Continuum, 2011. ISBN 978-1441115386
  • Garnett, Mark, and Kevin Hickson. Conservative thinkers: The key contributors to the political thought of the modern Conservative Party. Manchester University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0719075087
  • Halstead, Mark.Education, Justice, and Cultural Diversity: An Examination of the Honeyford Affair, 1984–85. Barcombe: Falmer Press, 1988. ISBN 978-1850003939
  • Halwani, Raja, Alan Soble, Sarah Hoffman, and Jacob Held (eds.). The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. ISBN 978-1442261433)
  • Hamilton, Andy, and Nick Zangwill (eds.). Scruton's Aesthetics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ISBN 978-0230251687
  • Hanley, Seán. The New Right in the New Europe: Czech Transformation and Right-wing politics, 1989–2006. London: Routledge, 2011. ISBN 978-0415674898
  • Haseler, Stephen. The Battle for Britain: Thatcher and the New Liberals. London: I.B. Tauris, 1990. ISBN 978-1850431480
  • Scruton, Roger. Conservative Thoughts: Essays from the Salisbury Review. London: The Claridge Press, 1988. ISBN 978-1870626552
  • Scruton, Roger. On Hunting. St. Augustines Press, 2002. ISBN 978-1587316005
  • Scruton, Roger. Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life. London: Continuum, 2006. ISBN 978-0826480330.
  • Scruton, Roger. The Face of God. Bloomsbury Continuum, 2014. ISBN 978-1472912732
  • Scruton, Roger. A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism. Bloomsbury Continuum; New edition, 2019. ISBN 978-1472965226
  • Scruton, Roger, and Mark Dooley. Conversations with Roger Scruton. Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016. ISBN 978-1472917096
  • Young, Hugo. One of Us: A Biography of Mrs. Thatcher. London: Macmillan, 1989. ISBN 978-0333344392

External links

All links retrieved December 15, 2022.


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