Chapter

Spinoza and Natural Law

Jon Miller

in Reason, Religion, and Natural Law

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199767175
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979592 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199767175.003.0008
Spinoza and Natural Law

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The chapter connects Spinoza's thought with important Stoic ideas and also with some contemporary metaethical issues. The core of Spinoza's normative view of law is that divine laws are end-oriented rules of conduct, and that they must be followed if human beings are to attain their summum bonum. Also, divine laws—which, for Spinoza, are not volitionally grounded commands but natural laws—have an intrinsically practical nature. In this aspect of his thought, Spinoza's view is much like the Stoics. Also, while denying that moral judgments are cognitivist judgments, Spinoza held that the basis of their prescriptivity is that we are to conform to our natures. His metaethics includes elements interpretable as quasi-realist. Spinoza's thought manages to connect a non-cognitivist account of moral value and moral judgment with a Stoic-like conception of the imperatives enjoining us to act in conformity with our nature as imperatives expressing a moral ought.

Keywords: natural law; cognitivism; divine law; metaethics; natural law; non-cognitivism; quasi-realism; Stoicism

Chapter.  10399 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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