Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020)

January 12, 2020

The death of Sir Roger Scruton (1944–2020) is a matter of great sadness to the James Madison Program.  A staunch friend of the Program and a longtime member of the James Madison Society, Sir Roger was a towering figure in modern philosophy with a global reputation.  He was the author of dozens of works ranging across political philosophy, the history of philosophy, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion.  He could bring his powerful mind to bear in fruitful ways even on subjects like hunting and wine.  Sir Roger also wrote novels and short stories, composed two operas, and hosted the 2009 BBC program “Why Beauty Matters.”  The James Madison Program was honored to host lectures by Sir Roger several times, including the 2013 Charles E. Test Lectures, which became his book On Human Nature (2017).  The JMP also hosted a conference in 2017 dedicated to Sir Roger’s thought—where he also spoke—"The Achievements of Sir Roger Scruton.”  No mere academic, Scruton was a man of many parts—editor, polemicist, adviser to Conservative governments in the UK, and active supporter of dissidents under Communism in Eastern Europe, especially in Czechoslovakia.

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University, said of his old friend, “Sir Roger was a distinguished philosopher—one of the best of our time. He was a valiant warrior against communist tyranny. He was a great upholder of beauty and of the idea and ideal of beauty. And he was a faithful friend.”