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Chapter 6 - Experimental Natural Philosophy and Moral Philosophy

from Part II - The Heyday of Experimental Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2023

Peter R. Anstey
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

This chapter turns from France to Scotland and from natural philosophy to moral philosophy. Through an examination of a number of leading Scots moral philosophers, we examine the impact of experimental philosophy on the project of the science of man in the Scotland of the eighteenth century. While it is incorrect to speak a movement of experimental moral philosophy in eighteenth-century Scotland, the impact of this new approach to natural philosophy is evident in its critique of speculation and hypotheses, in the roles that moral philosophers accorded to experiment and observation, in the rudimentary philosophy of experiment found in the writings of David Hume, and in the attempts by Scottish moral philosophers, such as George Turnbull, to apply the method of natural history and to incorporate analogues of physical laws in their theories. This chapter provides us with ample evidence for the claim that experimental philosophy had a decisive impact on the development of Scottish moral philosophy of the eighteenth century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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