Joseph Butler: Fifteen Sermons and Other Writings on Ethics

ISBN : 9780199657568

David McNaughton
272 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2017
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Joseph Butler's Fifteen Sermons (1726) is a classic work of moral philosophy, widely influential ever since. The topics Butler discusses include the role of conscience in human nature, self-love and egoism, compassion, resentment and forgiveness, love of our neighbour and of God. The text of the second edition of the Sermons is here presented together with a selection of Butler's other ethical writings: the Dissertation of the Nature of Virtue, a sermon on hypocrisy and liberty preached before the House of Lords, and relevant extracts from his correspondence with Samuel Clarke. David McNaughton contributes a substantial historical and philosophical introduction to help readers understand these works and see their continuing importance. While it is a readers' edition which avoids the clutter of textual variants and intrusive footnotes, it comes complete with scholarly apparatus intended to aid the reader in studying Butler's work in depth. McNaughton also includes short summaries of Butler's predecessors, and a selective bibliography. This will be the definitive resource for anyone interested in Butler's moral philosophy.


Sermon 1 Upon Human Nature
Sermon 2 Upon Human Nature
Sermon 3 Upon Human Nature
Sermon 4 Upon the Government of the Tongue
Sermon 5 Upon Compassion
Sermon 6 Upon Compassion
Sermon 7 Upon the Character of Balaam
Sermon 8 Upon Resentment
Sermon 9 Upon the Forgiveness of Injuries
Sermon 10 Upon Self-Deceit
Sermon 11 Upon the Love of our Neighbour
Sermon 12 Upon the Love of our Neighbour
Sermon 13 Upon the Love of God
Sermon 14 Upon the Love of God
Sermon 15 Upon the Ignorance of Man
A Dissertation of the Nature of Virtue
A Sermon Preached Before the House of Lords
A Selection from the Correspondence between Joseph Butler and Samuel Clarke
Editorial Notes
Butler's Predecessors

About the author: 

David McNaughton is Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University and Professor Emeritus at Keele University. He is the founder and first President of the British Society for Ethical Theory. He is the author of Moral Vision (1988) and, with Eve Garrard, Forgiveness (2010), and of a number of papers on ethics, philosophy of religion, and the relations between the two. He is currently writing a book with Piers Rawling on their approach to practical reasons, and editing Butler's Analogy of Religion for OUP.

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