James Beattie, Practical Ethics, and the Human Nature Question

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 10 (1):1-12 (2012)

Authors
Fred R. Ablondi
Marquette University (PhD)
Abstract
This article begins by examining James Beattie's conception of speculative ethics, which he regards as the study of the foundation and nature of virtue. This leads to a discussion of the moral sense, or conscience, which Beattie claims is part of the nature of every rational being and which is designed to lead us to a virtuous life. Given this, I ask why Beattie thought himself warranted, or even needed, to dispense practical ethical advice. Answering this involves looking at Beattie's views on the importance of proper education, as well as the role played by his acceptance of providential naturalism. Beattie's answer is not only consistent with his ‘lecturing others’ as to their practical duties, his understanding of the relation between the speculative and the practical also allows him to respond to what contemporary ethicists call the Application Problem. A comparison with Reid's ethical thought will help bring out this latter point.
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DOI 10.3366/jsp.2012.0024
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References found in this work BETA

An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals.David Hume & Tom L. Beauchamp - 1998 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 190 (2):230-231.
The Works of Thomas Reid.Thomas Reid - 1895 - James Thin Longmans, Green & Co.
Practical Ethics.Thomas Reid & Knud Haakonssen - 1990 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (1):89-90.

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