- Notes on Contributors
- Locke and His Influence
- Newton and Newtonianism in Eighteenth-Century British Thought
- The Idea of a Science of Human Nature
- Rhetoric and Eloquence: The Language of Persuasion
- Perception and The Language of Nature
- Language and Thought
- The Understanding
- Mind and Matter
- Passions, Affections, Sentiments: Taxonomy and Terminology
- Reason and the Passions
- Liberty and Necessity
- The Government of the Passions
- Self-Interest and Sociability
- Moral Judgment
- The Nature of Virtue
- Practical Ethics
- The Pleasures of the Imagination and the Objects of Taste
- The Faculty of Taste
- The Pleasures of Tragedy
- Genius and the Creative Imagination
- The Origin of Civil Government
- Forms of Government
- Reform and Revolution
- Luxury, Commerce, and the Rise of Political Economy
- Causation, Cosmology, and the Limits of Philosophy: the Early Eighteenth-Century British Debate
- Philosophy, Revealed Religion, and the Enlightenment
- Religion and Morality
Abstract and Keywords
Given its initial form by Protestant natural lawyers such as Pufendorf, practical ethics figured prominently in the writings and lectures of university teachers like Hutcheson, Smith, Reid, and Paley, and it provided the most important shared background for philosophical views concerning how we ought to act and what dispositions we should cultivate. The core of practical ethics was a systematic presentation of our duties, rights, and virtues. This chapter analyzes the structure and discusses the purposes served by practical ethics. It then surveys philosophical opinion on our principal duties—those to God, to self, and to others—and examines debates on piety, suicide, and lying.
Colin Heydt is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Florida. His work focuses on the history of ethics and political philosophy, particularly that of seventeenth through nineteenth century Britain. He is the author of Rethinking Mill’s Ethics (Continuum, 2006) and of articles on Hume, Smith, and Hutcheson, among others. He is currently writing a history of practical ethics in eighteenth century Britain.
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