Morals

  • Lester G. Crocker
Chapter
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)

Abstract

The metaphysical and religious climate of the age obliged eighteenth-century thinkers to make a fresh inquiry into the nature and validity of moral obligation. Why do we consider certain actions to be right or wrong and why should such judgments be binding on us? Innumerable books were written on these themes, and many theories and solutions propounded, probably with little effect on the conduct of men—thus substantiating Hume’s view that you cannot rationally convince a man that he ought to be a moral being if he does not want to be one. The selections that follow represent several directions of eighteenth-century thought.

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Notes

  1. Translated by R. H. Popkin and Craig Brush in Pierre Bayle, Historical and Critical Dictionary (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc., 1965), pp. 202–03. Copyright © 1965. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.Google Scholar
  2. H. D. Aiken (ed.), Hume’s Moral and Political Philosophy (New York: Hafner Publishing Co., Inc., 1948), pp. 24–26, 37–43, 134–36.Google Scholar
  3. H. W. Schneider (ed. and intro.), Adam Smith’s Moral and Political Philosophy (New York: Hafner Publishing Co., Inc., 1948), pp. 43–45, 219–23 passim.Google Scholar
  4. The selections A through D translated by Derek Coltrnan in Diderot’s Selected Writings, ed. L. G. Crocker (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1966), pp. 40–45, 139–40, 210–12, 281–82. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.Google Scholar
  5. D’Holbach, Système de la Nature (London, 1771). Translated by the editor.Google Scholar
  6. H. Temple Patterson (ed.), Tratté de métaphysique (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1937). Translated by the editor.Google Scholar
  7. Tobias Smollett (ed.), The Works of Voltaire; a contemporary version with notes, revised and modernized with new translations by William J. Fleming, introduction Oliver H. G. Leigh (New York: E. R. DuMont, 1901).Google Scholar
  8. De Sade, Histoire de Juliette (Paris: Pauvert, 1954), Translated by the editor.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lester G. Crocker

There are no affiliations available

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