James Beattie, Practical Ethics, and the Human Nature Question

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

Fred R. Ablondi
Marquette University (PhD)
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.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3366/jsp.2012.0024
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 42,156
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

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.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
21 ( #397,442 of 2,253,651 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #795,920 of 2,253,651 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature