Richard Cumberland

(1631—1718) bishop of Peterborough

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A Cambridge figure and staunch Protestant, who is reported to have fallen into a dangerous fever when James II attempted to reintroduce Roman Catholicism into England. Cumberland's philosophical reputation, however, rests upon De Legibus Naturae (‘Of the Laws of Nature’, 1672), which was the first significant attempt to refute Hobbes's view of law as founded upon nothing more than the will of the sovereign. Cumberland's work is unsystematic and diffuse, but influenced subsequent rationalists such as Clarke, and also contains anticipations of utilitarianism.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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