Reasoning about morals from Butler to Hume

Aaron Garrett

in Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment Britain

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199227044
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739309 | DOI:
Reasoning about morals from Butler to Hume

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In this chapter it is argued that Hume’s stress on experiment in moral philosophy has one of its primary sources in Butler’s criticisms of Clarke’s moral rationalism and his arguments for a moral philosophy based on probable reason and restricted to experience. Butler avoids claims about providence and other metaphysical explanations (without at the same time denying their existence), and it is important to understand the origin of his sermons at the Rolls Chapel as discourses to lawyers. Butler also anatomized human nature and tried to give an account of what morals are for creatures like us, both of which prefigure and likely influenced Hume.

Keywords: Joseph Butler; David Hume; moral rationalism; Rolls Chapel; human nature; Lord Shaftesbury; Samuel Clarke; Francis Hutcheson

Chapter.  9466 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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