Modern Intellectual History 7 (1):1-31 (2010)

This essay offers a reassessment of William Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. It focuses on his defence of religious ethics from challenges laid down in David Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. By restoring the context of theological/philosophical debate to Paley's thinking about ethics, the essay attempts to establish his genuine commitment to a worldly theology and to a programme of human advancement. This description of orthodox thought takes us beyond the bipolar debate about whether intellectual culture in the period was religious or secular: it was clearly religious; the question is: what kind of religion? It also makes questionable the view that England was somehow isolated from so-called Enlightenment currents of thought that were thriving elsewhere on the Continent. The “science of man”, far from being the sole preserve of Scottish and continental thinkers, also provided the basis for moral thought in eighteenth-century England.
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DOI 10.1017/S1479244309990254
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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.
Edmund Burke and the Politics of Conquest.Richard Bourke - 2007 - Modern Intellectual History 4 (3):403-432.
A History of English Utilitarianism.James Seth & Ernest Albee - 1902 - Philosophical Review 11 (5):514.

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