Philosophy in Review 31 (5):375-378 (2011)

Abstract
Noa Naaman-Zauderer’s book aims to bring to light the ethical underpinnings of Descartes’ system: on her view, in both the practical and the theoretical spheres Descartes takes our foremost duty to lie in the good use of the will.The marked ethical import of Cartesian epistemology takes the form of a deontological, non-consequentialist view of error: epistemic agents are praised/blamed when they fulfill/flout the duty to not assent to ideas that are less than clear and distinct.Extra-theoretical realms admitting of no clear and distinct perceptions are subject to ‘softer’ duties of acting on the basis of the best available reasons. Since Cartesian epistemology involves ethical considerations,and since the late Cartesian ethics of virtue crucially depends on metaphysical knowledge about the nature and function of the will, Descartes’ ethics is not just a fruit of his tree of knowledge but it also nourishes its own roots.
Keywords Descartes, ethics of belief, epistemology, deontology, ethics  virtue, generosity
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