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Title: The moral self, moral knowledge and God : an analysis of the theory of Samuel Clarke
Author: Ducharme, Howard M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 0916
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1984
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The principal aim of this work is to ascertain a clear understanding of Clarke's moral theory, one which has suffered from neglect and misunderstanding. The assumption that his 'rational intuitionism' is given little if any epistemological grounding, is shown to be erroneous. This is done by drawing on his extensive work in the Letter to Dodwell and its Defenses. The secondary aim of this thesis is to show the relevance of Clarke's work to contemporary discussions in philosophy of mind, moral theory, and moral theology. The thesis has four parts. In Part I, the works of Clarke, relevant to his moral theory, are introduced. His influence in the eighteenth century is brought out, both in Britain and on the Continent. As regards his influence in moral theory, he is the likely goad that moved Hume to formulate 'Hume's Law,' that ought cannot be derived from is. Part II is an analysis of Clarke's philosophical work on the nature of the 'rational and moral agent.' His views are ascertained, clarified, and presented as the epistemological foundation of his moral theory. One conclusion that follows from this material is that the influential work of Clarke is sharply at odds with the 'historiographic orthodoxy' that views British thought about the problem of knowledge to be progressive refinements of Locke's anti-innatism. The Defences are directed to Anthony Collins, a deist and late disciple of Locke. There are also three major historical corrections that follow from the study of Clarke's work on the nature of mind. Two ideas that are usually attributed to Joseph Butler are actually Clarke's conceptions, e.g. the distinction between 'the strict' and 'the abstract'(or 'loose') concepts of personal identity, and the notion that memory does not constitute personal identity but rather presupposes and entails it. One other idea, usually attributed to Thomas Reid, is more properly credited to Clarke, namely, the theory of agent-causation. All three of these concepts are extremely important in contemporary philosophy of mind and theory of action. They constitute the epistemological ground of Clarke's moral theory. In Part III the moral epistemology uncovered in Part II is linked with Clarke's more well known views found in the Discourse. His usually nebulous concept of 'fitness' is assessed and defended against the major criticisms of Hume (in Treatise 3.1.1) and Hutcheson. His often degraded analogy between morals and mathematics is defended, and his views are distinguished from those of Thomas Burnet, another anti- Lockean writer. In Part IV, the moral theory proposed by Clarke argues for an employment of reason and revelation. It comes under sharp and extensive criticism from the deist Matthew Tindal. His criticisms, however, employ an either/or fallacy that is wholly inadequate as a refutation of Clarke's moral theology. A comparison of key ideas in the moral theologies (metaphysics) of Leibniz and Clarke is made, and the principle of imitation of the holiness of God is found to be the coherent and full expression of Clarke's moral theology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christian ethics ; Ethics ; Knowledge ; Theory of ; Religion ; Philosophy