Happiness, Virtue and Divine Command: The Moral Theology of John Locke

Dissertation, University of Southern California (1995)

This dissertation argues that Locke's ethics can best be understood as an integration of the elements of happiness, virtue and divine command. Drawing on the writings of Richard Ashcraft, John Dunn and Richard Mouw, its thesis is that Locke's ethics is based on his Christian faith. The dissertation begins by examining Locke's use of scripture in developing his doctrinal views. The following chapters use Locke's theology to demonstrate that for Locke ethics are theological and not merely philosophical. Therefore, true happiness for Locke is found only in heaven; all earthly pleasures fall short of true happiness. Happiness includes pleasure, but is not synonymous with pleasure. Virtue requires training and education. John Passmore and Alex Neill's writings are used to show that Locke's idea of training requires more than merely reasoning well and more than an attempt to gain a good reputation. Virtue is obedience to the law of God which requires both training and the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The commands of God are good because they fit creation. As the greatest reasoning being God's will is constrained to choose reason even though God himself is a free being. Locke's ethical theory is an attempt to draw together elements of human psychology and the biblical presentation of an omnipotent God
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