The British Moralists and the Internal 'Ought': 1640-1740

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This major work in the history of ethics provides the first study of early modern British ethics in several decades. It aims to uncover the roots of the idea (called internalism in contemporary discussion) that any binding 'ought' must be based in the motives of a deliberating agent, as this notion developed in the thought of British philosophers writing in the period from Hobbes to the appearance of Hume's Treatise in 1740. Stephen Darwall discerns two different traditions within which this idea was worked out. On the one hand, an empirical naturalist tradition, comprising Hobbes, Locke, Cumberland, Hutcheson, and Hume, argued that obligation is the practical force that empirical discoveries acquire in the process of deliberation. On the other, a group including Cudworth, Shaftesbury, Butler, and, in some moments, Locke, viewed obligation as inconceivable without an autonomous will and sought (well before Kant) to develop a theory of the will as self-determining and to devise an account of obligation linked to that.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a sophisticated book: an exemplary combination of philosophical acumen and original schoalrship....It will prompt historical and ethical dbate for along time, and it teaches all of us how to read classic texts." Terence Penelhum, Ethics

"Darwall's book is far richer in both historical and philosophical insight than a review can easily indicate. It is required reading for anyone interested in its period and will be a stimulating education for anyone thinking about its issues." Nicholas L. Sturgeon, Jrnl of Philosophy

"This is a valuable book that should prompt further studies of the British moralists in the years ahead." oliver A. Johnson, International Studies in Philosophy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521451673
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
1 The British moralists: inventing internalism 1
2 Culverwell and Locke: classical and modern natural law 23
3 Hobbes: ethics as "consequences from the passions of men" 53
4 Cumberland: obligation naturalized 80
5 Cudworth: obligation and self-determining moral agency 109
6 Locke: autonomy and obligation in the revised Essay 149
7 Shaftesbury: authority and authorship 176
8 Hutcheson: moral sentiment and calm desire 207
9 Butler: conscience as self-authorizing 244
10 Hume: norms and the obligation to be just 284
11 Concluding reflections 319
Works cited 333
Index 347
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