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Title: Conscience and its referents : the meaning and place of conscience in the moral thought of Joseph Butler and the ethical rationalism of Samuel Clarke, John Balguy and Richard Price
Author: Daniel, Dafydd Edward Mills
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 0563
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Abstract:
Joseph Butler's moral thought and the ethical rationalism of Samuel Clarke, and his followers, John Balguy and Richard Price, are frequently distinguished, as a result of: (a) Butler’s empirical method (e.g., Kydd, Sturgeon); (b) Butler's emphasis upon self-love in the 'cool hour passage' (e.g., Prichard, McPherson); (c) Butlerian conscience, where, on a neo-Kantian reading, Butler surpassed the Clarkeans by conveying a sense of Kantian 'reflective endorsement' (e.g., Korsgaard, Darwall). The neo-Kantian criticisms of the Clarkeans in (c) are consistent with (d) Francis Hutcheson's and David Hume's criticisms of the Clarkeans; (e) modern criticisms of rational intuitionism that follow Hutcheson and Hume (e.g., Mackie, Warnock); and (f) the contention that the Clarkeans occupied an uneasy position within 'post-restoration natural law theory' (e.g., Beiser, Finnis). (d)-(e) thus underpin the distinction between Butler and the Clarkeans in (a)-(c), where the Clarkeans, unlike Butler, are criticised for representing moral truth as the passive, and self-evident, perception of potentially uninteresting facts. This study responds to (a)-(f), by arguing that Butlerian and Clarkean conscience possessed more than one referent; so that conscience meant an individual's experience of his own judgement and God’s judgement and the rational moral order. As a result of their shared theory of conscience, Butler and the Clarkeans held the same theory of moral development: moral agents mature as they move from obeying conscience according to only one of conscience's referents, to obeying conscience because to do so is to satisfy each of conscience's referents. In response to (a)-(b), this study demonstrates that the Clarkeans agreed with Butler’s method and 'cool hour': natural considerations of individual judgement and self-interest were necessary aspects of the progress towards moral maturity in both Butler and the Clarkeans. With respect to (c), it is argued that Butler and the Clarkeans shared the same understanding of practical moral reasoning as part of their shared understanding of conscience and moral development. This study places limits upon proto-Kantian readings of Butler, and neo-Kantian criticisms of the Clarkeans, while making it inconsistent to divide Butler and the Clarkeans on the basis of Butlerian conscience. In answer to (c)-(f), Clarkean conscience shows that the Clarkeans were neither complacent nor ‘externalists’. Clarkean conscience highlights how the Clarkeans positioned themselves within the tradition of Ciceronian right reason and Thomistic natural law. Consequently, in both Butler and the Clarkeans, the intuition of moral truth was not the passive perception of an 'independent realm' of normative fact, but the active encounter, in conscience, with reason qua the law of God’s nature, human nature, and the created universe.
Supervisor: Biggar, Nigel ; Harrison, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.686952  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual History ; Ethics (Moral philosophy) ; Epistemology, causation, humankind ; Modern Western philosophy ; Theology and Religion ; Philosophy,psychology and sociology of religion ; conscience ; ethical rationalism ; rational intuitionism ; neo-Kantianism ; normativity ; practical reason ; Joseph Butler ; Samuel Clarke ; John Balguy ; Richard Price ; natural law ; right reason ; recta ratio
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