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The Elements of Moral Philosophy

David Fordyce

Publication Year: 2012

Though little known today, David Fordyce was an important figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and closely associated with liberal Dissenters in England. His Elements of Moral Philosophy was a notable contribution to the curriculum in moral philosophy and a widely circulated text in moral philosophy in the second half of the eighteenth century. It was first published as part of a comprehensive textbook system in 1748 and as a separate book in 1754. It is the latter that is now being reissued. The significance of The Elements is evidenced by the fact that it was included practically verbatim in the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1771). A Brief Account, Fordyce’s opening lectures to his Marischal class of 1743/44, has never before been published.David Fordyce (1711–1751) taught at Marischal College, Aberdeen.Thomas D. Kennedy is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Valparaiso University.Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History and Director of the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

David Fordyce stands among the foremost of those philosophers who achieve a not always deserved resting place in darkest obscurity despite having been influential and highly regarded shortly after their deaths. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin’s...

Note on the Texts

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pp. xvii

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pp. xviii

Many are the debts I have incurred over my years of working on David Fordyce; only a few of those debts can here be acknowledged. The Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society and Richard B. Sher have provided genial and...

Original Title Page

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pp. 3-6

Every single one of us has to give his undivided attention—to the detriment of all other areas of study—to trying to track down and discover whether there is anyone he can discover and unearth anywhere who can give him the competence and knowledge to distinguish a good life from a bad one, and to choose a better life from among...

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Section I. Of Man and His Connections

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pp. 7-14

In giving a rude Sketch or History in Miniature of Man, we must remember that he rises from small Beginnings, unfolds his Faculties and Dispositions by degrees, as the Purposes of Life require their Appearance, advances slowly...

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Section II. Of Duty, or Moral Obligation

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pp. 15-28

It is by the End or Design of any Power or Movement, that we must direct its Motions, and estimate the Degree of Force necessary to its just Action. If it want the Force requisite for the obtaining its End, we call it defective; if it has...

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Section III. Various Hypotheses Concerning Moral Obligation

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pp. 29-40

From the Induction which has been made, we shall be able to judge with more Advantage of the different Hypotheses which have been contrived to deduce the Origin of Moral Obligation. Hobbes, who saw Mankind...

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Section IV. The Final Causes of Our Moral Faculties of Perception and Affection

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pp. 41-52

We have now taken a General Prospect of Man, and of his Moral Powers and Connections, and on these erected a Scheme of Duty, or Moral Obligation, which seems to be confirmed by Experience, consonant to Reason, and approved by

Book II

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pp. 53

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Section I. The Principal Distinctions of Duty or Virtue

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pp. 53-59

We have now considered the Constitution and Connections of Man, and on these erected a general System of Duty, or Moral Obligation, consonant to Reason, approved...

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Section II. Of Man's Duty to Himself

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pp. 60-78

Every Creature, by the Constitution of his Nature, is determined to love himself, to pursue whatever tends to his Preservation and Happiness, and to avoid whatever tends to his Hurt and Misery. Being endued with Sense...

Section III. Duties to Society, p. 79

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pp. 79

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Chapter I. Filial and Fraternal Duty, p. 79

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pp. 79-80

As we have followed the Order of Nature in tracing the History of Man, and those Duties which he owes to himself, it seems reasonable to take the same Method with those he owes to Society, which constitute the second Class of his Obligations....

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Chapter II. Concerning Marriage

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pp. 81-85

When Man arrives to a certain Age, he becomes sensible of a peculiar Sympathy and Tenderness towards the other Sex; the Charms of Beauty engage his Attention, and call forth new and softer Dispositions than he has yet felt. The many amiable...

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Chapter III. Of Parental Duty

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pp. 86-88

The Connection of Parents with their Children is a natural Consequence of the matrimonial Connection, and the Duties which they owe them, result as naturally from that Connection. The feeble State of Children, subject to so many Wants and Dangers, requires their incessant Cares and Attention...

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Chapter IV. Herile and Servile Duty,

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pp. 88-90

In the natural Course of human Affairs it must necessarily happen, that some of Mankind will live in Plenty and Opulence, and others be reduced to a State of Indigence and Poverty. The former need the Labours of the latter, and...

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Chapter V. Social Duties of the private Kind

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pp. 90-96

Hitherto we have considered only the Domestic, Oeconomical Duties, because these are the first in the Progress of Nature. But as Man passes beyond the little Circle of a Family, he forms Connections...

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Chapter VI. Social Duties of the Commercial Kind

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pp. 97-100

The next Order of Connections are those which arise from the Wants and Weakness of Mankind, and from the various Circumstances in which their different Situations place them. These we may call Commercial Connections...

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Chapter VII. Social Duties of the Political Kind

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pp. 100-107

We are now arrived at the last and highest Order of Duties respecting Society, which result from the Exercise of the most generous and heroic Affections, and are founded on our most enlarged Connections...

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Section IV. Duty to God

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pp. 108-118

Of all the Relations which the human Mind sustains, that which subsists between the Creator and his Creatures, the supreme Lawgiver and his Subjects, is the highest and the best. This Relation arises from the Nature of a Creature in general...

Book III

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pp. 119

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Section I. Of Practical Ethics, or the Culture of the Mind

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pp. 119-131

We have now gone thro’ a particular Detail of the several Duties we owe to Ourselves, to Society, and to God. In considering the first Order of Duties, we just touched on the Methods of acquiring the different kinds of Goods, which we are...

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Section II. Motives to Virtue from Personal Happiness,

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pp. 132-146

We have already considered our Obligations to the Practice of Virtue, arising from the Constitution of our Nature, by which we are led to approve a certain Order and Oeconomy of Affections, and a certain Course of Action correspondent...

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Section III. Motives to Virtue from the Being and Providence of God

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pp. 147-151

Besides the interesting Motives mentioned in the last Section, there are two great Motives to Virtue, strictly connected with human Life, and resulting from the very Constitution of the human Mind. The First is the Being and Providence of...

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Section IV. Motive to Virtue from the Immortality of the Soul, &c.

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pp. 152-160

The other Motive mentioned was the Immortality of the Soul, with future Rewards and Punishments. The metaphysical Proofs of the Soul’s Immortality, are commonly drawn from its simple, uncompounded, and indivisible Nature, from...

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A brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy

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pp. 165-202

1. Philosophy, a thing much talked of but little understood by the generality, is defined by Cicero the great interpreter of the Greecian Philosophy: The knowledge of things divine & humane.1 But the definition of it given by Pythagoras...


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pp. 203-212

Publishing Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614877967
E-ISBN-10: 1614877963
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865973909

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None