Ideas from 'Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit' by 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury [1699], by Theme Structure

[found in 'British Moralists 1650-1800 Vol. 1' (ed/tr Raphael,D.D.) [Hackett 1991,0-87220-120-1]].

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22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
A person isn't good if only tying their hands prevents their mischief, so the affections decide a person's morality
                        Full Idea: We do not say that he is a good man when, having his hands tied up, he is hindered from doing the mischief he designs; …hence it is by affection merely that a creature is esteemed good or ill, natural or unnatural.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], I.II.I)
                        A reaction: Note that he more or less equates being morally 'ill' with being 'unnatural'. We tend to reserve 'unnatural' for extreme or perverse crimes. Personally I would place more emphasis on evil judgements, and less on evil feelings.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / d. Sources of pleasure
People more obviously enjoy social pleasures than they do eating and drinking
                        Full Idea: How much the social pleasures are superior to any other may be known by visible tokens and effects; the marks and signs which attend this sort of joy are more intense and clear than those which attend the satisfaction of thirst and hunger.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], II.II.I)
                        A reaction: He presumably refers to smiles and laughter, but they could be misleading as they are partly a means of social communication. You should ask people whether they would prefer a nice conversation or a good pork chop. Nice point, though.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / c. Ethical intuitionism
Fear of God is not conscience, which is a natural feeling of offence at bad behaviour
                        Full Idea: Conscience is to find horribly offensive the reflection of any unjust action or behaviour; to have awe and terror of the Deity, does not, of itself, imply conscience; …thus religious conscience supposes moral or natural conscience.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], II.II.I)
                        A reaction: The reply from religion would be that the Deity has implanted natural conscience in each creature, though this seems to deny our freedom of moral judgment. Personally I am inclined to think that values are just observations of the world - such as health.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
If an irrational creature with kind feelings was suddenly given reason, its reason would approve of kind feelings
                        Full Idea: If a creature wanting reason has many good qualities and affections, it is certain that if you give this creature a reflecting faculty, it will at the same instant approve of gratitude, kindness and pity.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], I.III.III)
                        A reaction: A wonderful denunciation of the authority of reason, which must have influenced David Hume. I think, though, that the inverse of this case must be considered (if suddenly given feelings, they would fall in line with reasoning). We reason about feelings.
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
Self-interest is not intrinsically good, but its absence is evil, as public good needs it
                        Full Idea: Though no creature can be called good merely for possessing the self-preserving affections, it is impossible that public good can be preserved without them; so that a creature wanting in them is wanting in natural rectitude, and may be esteemed vicious.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], II.I.III)
                        A reaction: Aristotle held a similar view (Idea 92). I think maybe Shaftesbury was the last call of the Aristotelians, before being engulfed by utilitarians and Kantians. This idea is at the core of capitalism.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
Every creature has a right and a wrong state which guide its actions, so there must be a natural end
                        Full Idea: We know there is a right and a wrong state of every creature; and that his right one is by nature forwarded, and by himself affectionately sought. There being therefore in every creature a certain interest or good; there must also be a natural end.
                        From: 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], I.II.I)
                        A reaction: This is an early modern statement of Aristotelian teleology, just at the point where it was falling out of fashion. The underlying concept is that of right function. I agree with Shaftesbury, but you can't stop someone damaging their health.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
For Shaftesbury, we must already have a conscience to be motivated to religious obedience
                        Full Idea: Shaftesbury argued that no morality could be founded in religious obedience, or piety. On the contrary, a man is motivated to such obedience only because conscience tells him that the divine being is worthy of it.
                        From: report of 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy Ch.8
                        A reaction: This seems to me a good argument. The only alternative is that we are brought to God by a conscience which was planted in us by God, but then how would you know you were being obedient to the right hypnotist?