Sentimentalism before Hume
This chapter consists of an overview of the work of the three British philosophers from the first half of the eighteenth century whose work most influenced the later sentimentalists: Francis Hutcheson, Bishop Joseph Butler, and Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury. Although all three made important contributions to the argument that justice and virtue cannot be products of reason alone, this chapter considers these authors primarily insofar as they presented the problems which Hume, Smith, and Herder were left to work out in their own writings. The first of these challenges was the need for a free-standing sentimentalist ethics—that is, one which does not rely on religion or metaphysics to establish the normative authority of our moral sentiments. The second challenge is to explain how our moral sentiments can lead us to a sense of justice capable of being instantiated in law-governed political institutions.
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