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Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s Democratization of Moral Virtue

  • Getty L. Lustila (a1)

Abstract

This paper examines Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s moral philosophy, focusing on her accounts of virtuous conduct, conscience, obligation, and moral character. I argue that Cockburn’s account of virtue has two interlocking parts: a view of what virtue requires of us, and a view of how we come to see this requirement as authoritative. I then argue that while the two parts are ultimately in tension with one another, the tension is instructive. I use Cockburn’s encounter with Shaftesbury’s writings to help bring out this tension in her thought. I conclude that Cockburn’s work marks a bridge in modern moral philosophy from seventeenth-century natural law theory to the naturalism of the eighteenth century— that of Gay, Hume, and Bentham.

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References

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Sheridan, Patricia. 2015. “Locke’s Latitudinarian Sympathies: An Exploration of Sentiment in Locke’s Moral Theory.” Locke Studies 15: 131–62.
Sheridan, Patricia. 2018a. “Some Aspects of Catherine Trotter Cockburn’s Metaphysics of Morality.” In Early Modern Women on Metaphysics, edited by Thomas, Emily, 247–65. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s Democratization of Moral Virtue

  • Getty L. Lustila (a1)

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