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date: 06 March 2021

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.

Keywords: practical ethics, natural law, duty, right, virtue, morality, David Hume, Thomas Reid, piety, suicide, lying

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