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The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy

In Two Volumes

George Turnbull

Publication Year: 2012

The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy presents the first masterpiece of Scottish Common Sense philosophy. This two-volume treatise is important for its wide range of insights about the nature of the human mind, the foundations of morals, and the relationship between morality and religion. In order to understand the Enlightenment in Scotland, Turnbull’s work must be put next to that of Francis Hutcheson.

In the first volume, The Principles of Moral Philosophy, Turnbull presents a detailed study of the faculties of the human mind and their interrelations. He contends that moral philosophy should be treated as one part, the highest part, of natural philosophy, and not as a field requiring its own distinctive methodology. Moral philosophers should rely on observation and experiment as their means of exploration into the workings of the human mind.

In the second volume, Christian Philosophy, Turnbull presents arguments for the existence of God and for God’s infinite perfection. The underlying notion here is God’s moral government of the world, a government that is particularly at work in the allotment of recompense for our good and evil deeds.

The Liberty Fund edition of The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy is the first modern edition of this work.

George Turnbull (1698–1748) belongs to the founding figures in the Scottish Enlightenment. Finding their native Calvinism repressive, they sought a rational religion closely associated with their new science of human nature, supportive of tolerance, and compatible with classical ideals.

Alexander Broadie is Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at the University of Glasgow.

Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.

Published by: Liberty Fund

The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy: Volume 1

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. 7-8

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xvii

George Turnbull was born on 11 July 1698, probably in the Scottish town of Alloa in Clackmannanshire where his father was the Church of Scotland parish minister. Turnbull entered Edinburgh University in 1711 and continued his studies there till about 1716, though he did not proceed...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xix-xx

In preparing Turnbull’s text for this edition my approach has been minimalist. I have corrected manifest printer’s errors but have not modernized Turnbull’s eighteenth-century spelling nor corrected what may be plain spelling mistakes. The 1740 edition contains a list of errata, and...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-24

I owe a particular debt to Patricia S. Martin. Through her heroic efforts as my research assistant I was able to submit the typescript in good order and on time. Knud Haakonssen’s invitation to me to prepare an edition of The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy provided me...

The Principles of Moral Philosophy

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pp. 1-28

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The Epistle Dedicatory

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pp. 5-6

No man, by having the highest opinion of virtue, and of the happiness accruing from rational exercises, and virtuous consciousness, was ever the less inclined to believe a future existence. On the contrary, it will ever be found, that as they who are entirely immersed in gross...

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Preface

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pp. 7-18

For, in the first place, it is an enquiry into a real part of nature, which must be carried on in the same way with our researches into our own bodily contexture, or into any other, whether vegetable or animal fabrick. Secondly, ’Tis only by an acurate inspection of this whole, and its constituent parts...

The Principles of Moral Philosophy: Part I

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pp. 19-44

Contents: Part I

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pp. 21-38

Contents: Part II

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pp. 39-45

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Introduction

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pp. 47-66

Every one who knows what natural philosophy is, or how it proceeds in its enquiries will easily conceive what moral philosophy must mean; and how it likewise ought to be pursued: for all enquiries into fact, reality, or any part of nature must be set about, and carried on in the same way...

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Chapter I

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pp. 67-100

Whatever disputes there are among philosophers about the freedom of our will, it is universally acknowledged, “That man has in several cases a power to do as he wills or pleases. Thus, if he wills to speak, or be silent, to sit down, or stand, ride, or walk; in fine, if his will changes like...

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Chapter II

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pp. 101-118

First, it is evident, that relation to or connexion with a sensible world, must consist in a certain dependence on its laws, so as to be variously affected by them with pleasure and pain; or, a certain bodily organization, by means of which, certain perceptions and affections are...

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Chapter III

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pp. 119-141

There are two things very remarkable in our nature; “The association of ideas, or the difficulty with which ideas that have been often presented to the mind together are afterwards disjoined;” and, “The formation of habits by repeated acts; or a facility in doing, and a propension to...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 142-173

We have already considered our constitution with regard to knowledge. But in an enquiry into human nature, it is certainly proper to take yet a further view of our frame with respect to our moral conduct and guidance; or of the powers we are endued with, to direct us in the...

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Chapter V

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pp. 174-203

One of the best modern writers on morals has given us a very accurate division of the chief questions relative to morality. “The first is, to know (says he) whether there are not some actions or affections which obtain the approbation of any spectator or <142> observer, and others...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 204-229

Let us consider another law of our nature. “The law of society. In consequence of which all men are not only led to society by several strong affections and dispositions; but man is so framed for society, that private and public happiness and perfection exceedingly depend upon our...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 230-242

Man cannot open his eyes to consider the stupendous frame of nature, to contemplate his own make, or indeed any other object which strikes his sense or understanding, without apprehending or conceiving some mighty power that made, upholds and governs all. The idea of a creating...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 243-254

Having thus considered the chief laws and principles, powers and properties in the human nature relative to our bodily or moral frame, to our sensitive part or our connexion with a material world, relative to knowledge, to virtue, to interest, and to society: I think we may conclude...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 255-295

It now remains to enquire what may be fairly and justly concluded from human nature, and the present constitution of things concerning death or the dissolution of our bodily frame? In order to determine which question, we need only state the phenomenon in a true light. And thus...

The Principles of Moral Philosophy: Part II

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pp. 297-322

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Introduction

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pp. 299-302

In the former part of this enquiry, we have proved from the direct consideration of our frame and constitution, that it is good; or that we are made for an excellent end. But because this subject is of the last importance, it is well worth while to consider the objections which are made...

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Chapter I

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pp. 303-312

All objections which tend to cut off and retrench any perfections which man is endowed with by nature; any of his senses, appetites, affections, or capacities of pleasure, his reason, activity, moral agency, power and liberty, or any other property, are objections against his...

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Chapter II

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pp. 313-366

First of all let it be observed, that “Here men are apt to let their imaginations run out upon all the robberies, pyracies, murders, perjuries, frauds, massacres, assassinations, they have either heard of, or read in history, thence concluding all mankind to be very wicked: as if a court...

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Chapter III

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pp. 367-399

Now I think the following observations will sufficiently evince the absurdity or unreasonableness of all such complaints against providence in the government of mankind, and shew that there is no reason to object against the pains and troubles of human life, or the distribution of...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 400-409

But to go through more objections separately would but oblige me to repeat very often the same principles, from which the solutions given to those that have been mentioned are brought, the principles fully explained in the first part of this enquiry. I shall now, therefore, take...

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Conclusion

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pp. 410-462

But whatever difficulty or uncertainty there may be, in judging of the springs of particular actions, human nature and its Author are sufficiently vindicated, when it appears, that all the powers of man, and all the springs which move him, are given him for excellent purposes...

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pp. 463-488

The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy: Volume 2

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pp. 489-494

Contents

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pp. 495-496

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xvi

It is reasonable to suppose that he did at least begin as a Calvinist, for that was the kind of religion he would have learned from his father, the Church of Scotland minister George Turnbull senior, who was ministering to the Church of Scotland parish of Alloa in the Scottish county...

The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy

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pp. 507-510

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Preface

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pp. 469-473

Order made it necessary to begin with an explication of those powers and affections belonging to man and their laws, which are, if one may so speak, the radical or elementary principles of human nature; the foundation or ground-work of the whole complex fabrick, which may be called...

Original Contents

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pp. 475-503

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Introduction

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pp. 505-516

In these words, we may observe, 1. A rule in the divine moral government, which is indeed the foundation of true religion, asserted in the strongest terms. Be not deceived, let no false teacher deceive you; and take care you do not deceive yourselves, because sin, or the love of...

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Section I

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pp. 517-605

Insomuch, that if a divine messenger should come to instruct a people quite ignorant of the Deity, he must first open their reason, and lead them gradually, by rational instruction suited to their capacity, to the knowledge of God, before he can deliver his message to them, and...

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Section II

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pp. 606-683

Tho’ it be a plain and universally received rule in criticism, that the obscurer passages of an author are always to be interpreted by the plain ones, and not the plain ones made doubtful by those that are more obscure, not to extend which to the sacred writings, in common with...

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Section III

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pp. 684-823

It was indeed impossible to treat of the divine moral perfection, or answer the objections made against providence, the ways of God to man in particular, without entering a good deal into the explication of virtue and vice; or of the perfection and imperfection belonging to all...

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Section IV

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pp. 824-913

Let it only be premised, that if the gospel of Jesus Christ does really pretend to be the doctrine of a future state, or to have brought life and immortality to light, it must be highly unreasonable not to give it a fair hearing and examination. If one is absolutely unconcerned about...

Bibliography of Works Cited

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pp. 915-919

Index

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pp. 921-935


E-ISBN-13: 9781614878711
E-ISBN-10: 1614878714
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865974579

Page Count: 984
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None
Series Title: Natural Law Paper

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Subject Headings

  • Ethics -- Early works to 1800.
  • Christian ethics -- Anglican authors -- Early works to 1800.
  • Natural law -- Religious aspects -- Church of England -- Early works to 1800.
  • Christianity -- Philosophy -- Early works to 1800.
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