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The Philosophy of Mary AstellAn Early Modern Theory of Virtue$
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Jacqueline Broad

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716815

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716815.001.0001

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(p.149) 8 Moderation
The Philosophy of Mary Astell

Jacqueline Broad

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how Mary Astell extends her moral views about virtue and happiness to her political arguments about the maintenance of peace and security in civil society. It is argued that she opposes the occasional conformists because these Protestant dissenters fail to exhibit the virtue of moderation in the normative Aristotelian sense of the term. That is to say, they do not demonstrate a virtuous capacity to determine the most appropriate or proportionate response to their circumstances; they exhibit the character traits of tyrants instead. In Astell’s view, the toleration of occasional conformity thus threatens to lead England back to rebellion, civil war, and tyranny. This chapter ends by examining the implied lessons for women in her political pamphlets.

Keywords:   Mary Astell, occasional conformity, peace, tyranny, virtue of moderation

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