Article

Rousseau and Ethics

Christopher Bertram

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199545971
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199545971.013.0013

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Rousseau and Ethics

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This chapter demonstrates that Rousseau sets out no systematic moral theory of his own but rather a series of theories about other matters (political, educational, religious) which contain remarks and opinions relevant to ethics, beginning with a discussion of his theory of psychological development. It then explores a number of possible answers to the questions: what, according to Rousseau is morality, and why should we be moral? Next, the chapter explains the meaning of Rousseau's natural goodness thesis. It presents two main accounts of how individuals can achieve a flourishing and satisfied life, the first of which is Rousseau's educational theory, as articulated in Emile; the second is the political philosophy he advances in the Social Contract.

Keywords: ethical theory; morality; psychological development; natural goodness; educational theory; political philosophy

Article.  5785 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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