James Balfour

(1705—1795) moral philosopher

Related Overviews

William Cleghorn (1718—1754) moral philosopher and university teacher

philosophy of law

David Hume (1711—1776) philosopher and historian

Francis Hutcheson (1694—1746) moral philosopher

See all related overviews in Oxford Index » »


'James Balfour' can also refer to...

Arthur James Balfour (1848—1930) prime minister and philosopher

Sir James Balfour Paul (1846—1931) herald and genealogist

Sir James of Denmiln and Kinnaird Balfour (1600—1657) antiquary and herald

Sir James of Pittendreich Balfour (c. 1525—1588) politician and legal writer


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Philosophy


Quick Reference

James Balfour was born in Pilrig, Scotland, and died in Edinburgh. He was descended from an ancient Scottish family, said by the family historian to be ‘ungodly’. He was educated initially in Scotland; in 1729, his father sent him to study at Leiden, with a career in the law as his destiny. He was made advocate on 17 November 1730. He served for many years as Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates and was appointed Sheriff-Substitute of Midlothian in 1748. In 1754 he was elected to the chair of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, succeeding William Cleghorn (d. 1754), who, in 1745, had been chosen over Hume. He held the post until 1764. Appointments to this chair involved a good deal of influence with the great and the good in Edinburgh, and Balfour did not take his duties too seriously, except when he had the opportunity to lecture against Hume. In 1764, he was appointed to the chair of laws of nature and nations, which he held until his death.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

Reference entries