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Honor, History, and RelationshipEssays in Second-Personal Ethics II$
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Stephen Darwall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662609.001.0001

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Pufendorf on Morality, Sociability, and Moral Powers

Pufendorf on Morality, Sociability, and Moral Powers

(p.189) 9 Pufendorf on Morality, Sociability, and Moral Powers
Honor, History, and Relationship

Stephen Darwall

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on second-personal aspects in the highly influential early modern philosopher, Samuel Pufendorf. Only recently have scholars begun to appreciate Pufendorf's importance for the history of ethics. The signal element of Pufendorf's ethics for recent commentators is his idea that morality arises ‘by imposition’ when God imposes his superior will on a world that, if not completely value free, nonetheless can contain no moral value on its own. But how, exactly, is imposition accomplished? Pufendorf's view is not that human beings defer to God in the way elephant seals might to a dominant male. Rather, imposition is realized through his creatures' recognition of God's authority to direct them and hold them answerable. This brings into play a whole battery of concepts — accountability, imputation, and authority — along with the capacities to operate with these concepts in practical thought. What is brilliantly original is Pufendorf's appreciation of these conceptual connections and of their implications for moral psychology.

Keywords:   Pufendorf, obligation, authority, divine, voluntarism, morality, sociability, dignity, rights

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