Recent Developments in the Thought of Quentin Skinner and the Ambitions of Contextualism

In this article, I chart some recent developments in the linguistic contextualist philosophy of history defended by Quentin Skinner. I attempt to identify several shifts in the way in which Skinner's position has been presented and justified, focusing particularly on his embrace of anti-foundationalism, his focus on rhetoric rather than speech-acts and his concern to recast contextualism as compatible with other interpretive approaches. In the final section, I reject the notion - suggested by Skinner and others - that a contextualist philosophy of history might constitute a distinct form of political theorizing in itself.