The British Moralists on Human Nature and the Birth of Secular Ethicsby Michael B. Gill
Pub. Date: 07/31/2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Uncovering the historical roots of naturalistic, secular contemporary ethics, in this 2006 volume Michael Gill shows how the British moralists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries completed a Copernican revolution in moral philosophy. They effected a shift from thinking of morality as independent of human nature to thinking of it as part of human nature itself. He also shows how the British Moralists - sometimes inadvertently, sometimes by design - disengaged ethical thinking, first from distinctly Christian ideas and then from theistic commitments altogether. Examining in detail the arguments of Whichcote, Cudworth, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson against Calvinist conceptions of original sin and egoistic conceptions of human motivation, Gill also demonstrates how Hume combined the ideas of earlier British moralists with his own insights to produce an account of morality and human nature that undermined some of his predecessors' most deeply held philosophical goals.
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Table of ContentsIntroduction; Part I. Whichcote and cudworth: 1. The negative answer of English Calvinism; 2. Whichcote and Cudworth's positive answer; 3 Whichcote and Cudworth on religious liberty; 4. Rationalism, sentimentalism, and Ralph Cudworth; 5. The emergence of non-Christian ethics; Part II. Shaftesbury: 6. Shaftesbury and the Cambridge Platonists; 7. Shaftesbury's Inquiry: a misanthropic faith in human nature; 8. The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody; 9. A philosophical faultline; Part III. Hutcheson: 10. Early influences on Francis Hutcheson; 11. Hutcheson's attack on egoism; 12. Hutcheson's attack on moral rationalism; 13. A Copernican positive answer, an attenuated moral realism; 14. Explaining away vice; Part IV. Hume: 15. David Hume's new 'science of man'; 16. Hume's arguments against moral rationalism; 17. Hume's associative moral sentiments; 18. Hume's progressive view of human nature; 19. Comparison and contingency in Hume's moral account; 20. What is a Humean account, and what difference does it make?
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