Locke's Ethics and the British Moralists: The Lockean Legacy in Eighteenth Century Moral Philosophy

Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada) (2002)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This dissertation examines Locke's influence on moralists of the eighteenth century. I will show how Locke's moral theory and the problems it raises set the tenor of moral discussion for subsequent theorists. My analysis does not rely upon proving explicit and direct influences of Locke on the theorists I examine. Rather, I want to show that Locke's influence was more general and systemic than would be revealed through the search for explicit debts and appropriations. Locke's attempt to produce a moral epistemology took for granted the assumptions of a traditional realist and rationalist natural law theory. In Locke we find an early and quite unique attempt to work out an epistemology of natural law that assumes neither innatism nor Hobbism. Locke endeavoured to find an account of natural law consistent with his own anti-innatist empiricism that might still support a realist conception of moral law. With this aim, he established the terms of moral theorizing for subsequent eighteenth century thinkers. As I will show, Locke's moral epistemology fails to fully cohere the presuppositions of his own realism and his commitment to natural law. In subsequent thinkers, we see attempts to solve this problem while maintaining Locke's basic moral assumptions. I look specifically at the works of Samuel Clarke, Francis Hutcheson, and Catharine Trotter Cockburn. What unites these theorists are the broad goals of establishing morality upon necessary and universal laws and of developing moral epistemologies that avoid both moral innatism and Hobbesian constructivism. More specifically, each is working to establish an epistemology that makes moral laws intuitively certain while maintaining a metaphysics of morality that relates moral law to the general teleological order of the universe. Despite the specific differences in their views, they can all seen to be working within a broadly Lockean frame of reference.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,297

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

John Locke and the problems of moral knowledge.Mark D. Mathewson - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):509–526.
John Locke and the Theory of Natural Law.Peter Paul Cvek - 1987 - Dissertation, University of Kansas
John Lockes Konzeption der Ethik.Jürgen Sprute - 1985 - Studia Leibnitiana 17 (2):127-142.
Locke on Punishment, Property and Moral Knowledge.Lee Ward - 2009 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2):218-244.
Das Prinzip naturrechtlicher Ethik bei John Locke.Bernd Franke - 2010 - Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 96 (2):199-222.
John Locke in the German Enlightenment: an Interpretation.Klaus P. Fischer - 1975 - Journal of the History of Ideas 36 (3):431.
Novel Epistemologies: Cultures of Reform in the Age of Locke.Jad Smith - 2003 - Dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University

Analytics

Added to PP
2015-02-04

Downloads
1 (#1,500,124)

6 months
1 (#450,425)

Historical graph of downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Patricia Sheridan
University of Guelph

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references