The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy

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A major philosophical mind in his day, William Paley (1743–1805) wrote in a lucid style that made complex ideas more accessible to a wide readership. This work, first published in 1785, was based on the lectures he gave on moral philosophy at Christ's College, Cambridge. Cited in parliamentary debates and remaining on the syllabus at Cambridge into the twentieth century, it stands as one of the most influential texts to emerge from the Enlightenment period in Britain. An orthodox theologian, grounding his utilitarian ethics in strong religious faith, Paley held notably progressive views on issues of toleration and the slave trade. His perspicuity prompted one contemporary to remark that the book 'presents a subject which has always been considered as harsh and difficult, in the most agreeable and intelligible form … we sit down to be informed of our duty, and are surprised to meet with amusement'.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865973800
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2002
  • Pages: 525

Table of Contents

Select Bibliography
Letter to the Bishop of Carlisle
Bk. I Preliminary Considerations
1 Definition and Use of the Science 1
2 The Law of Honour 1
3 The Law of the Land 2
4 The Scriptures 3
5 The Moral Sense 6
6 Human Happiness 12
7 Virtue 25
Bk. II Moral Obligation
1 The Question, Why Am I Obliged to Keep My Word? Considered 33
2 What We Mean, When We Say a Man Is Obliged to Do a Thing 34
3 The Question, Why Am I Obliged to Keep My Word? Resumed 35
4 The Will of God 37
5 The Divine Benevolence 39
6 Utility 42
7 The Necessity of General Rules 44
8 The Consideration of General Consequences Pursued 46
9 Of Right 49
10 The Division of Rights 51
11 The General Rights of Mankind 56
Bk. III Relative Duties
Pt. I Of Relative Duties Which Are Determinate
1 Of Property 63
2 The Use of the Institution of Property 64
3 The History of Property 66
4 In What the Right of Property Is Founded 68
5 Promises 73
6 Contracts 84
7 Contracts of Sale 85
8 Contracts of Hazard 88
9 Contracts of Lending of Inconsumable Property 90
10 Contracts Concerning the Lending of Money 92
11 Contracts of Labour - Service 97
12 Contracts of Labour - Commissions 100
13 Contracts of Labour - Partnership 103
14 Contracts of Labour - Offices 104
15 Lies 107
16 Oaths 110
17 Oath in Evidence 116
18 Oath of Allegiance 118
19 Oaths Against Bribery in the Election of Members of Parliament 121
20 Oath Against Simony 121
21 Oaths to Observe Local Statutes 124
22 Subscription to Articles of Religion 125
23 Wills 127
Pt. II Of Relative Duties Which Are Indeterminate, and of the Crimes Opposite to These
1 Charity 133
2 Charity - The Treatment of Our Domestics and Dependants 134
3 Slavery 135
4 Charity - Professional Assistance 138
5 Charity - Pecuniary Bounty 140
6 Resentment 149
7 Anger 150
8 Revenge 152
9 Duelling 156
10 Litigation 158
11 Gratitude 162
12 Slander 163
Pt. III Of Relative Duties Which Result from the Constitution of the Sexes, and of the Crimes Opposed to These
1 Of the Public Use of Marriage Institutions 167
2 Fornication 168
3 Seduction 174
4 Adultery 176
5 Incest 180
6 Polygamy 182
7 Divorce 186
8 Marriage 193
9 Of the Duty of Parents 196
10 The Rights of Parents 210
11 The Duty of Children 212
Bk. IV Duties to Ourselves
1 The Rights of Self-Defence 217
2 Drunkenness 219
3 Suicide 225
Bk. V Duties Towards God
1 Division of These Duties 233
2 Of the Duty and of the Efficacy of Prayer, so far as the Same Appear from the Light of Nature 234
3 Of the Duty and Efficacy of Prayer, as Represented in Scripture 240
4 Of Private Prayer, Family Prayer, and Public Worship 243
5 Of Forms of Prayer in Public Worship 249
6 Of the Use of Sabbatical Institutions 255
7 Of the Scripture Account of Sabbatical Institutions 257
8 By What Acts and Omissions the Duty of the Christian Sabbath Is Violated 269
9 Of Reverencing the Deity 271
Bk. VI Elements of Political Knowledge
1 Of the Origin of Civil Government 281
2 How Subjection to Civil Government Is Maintained 285
3 The Duty of Submission to Civil Government Explained 291
4 Of the Duty of Civil Obedience, as Stated in the Christian Scriptures 304
5 Of Civil Liberty 311
6 Of Different Forms of Government 316
7 Of the British Constitution 326
8 Of the Administration of Justice 351
9 Of Crimes and Punishments 373
10 Of Religious Establishments and of Toleration 394
11 Of Population and Provision; and of Agriculture and Commerce, as Subservient Thereto 419
12 Of War and Military Establishments 456
Index 473
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