Sacrifice Regained: Morality and Self-Interest in British Moral Philosophy from Hobbes to Bentham

ISBN : 9780198840473

Roger Crisp
272 ページ
153 x 234 mm

Does being virtuous make you happy? In this book, Roger Crisp examines the answers to this ancient question provided by the so-called 'British Moralists', from Thomas Hobbes, around 1650, for the next two hundred years, until Jeremy Bentham. This involves elucidating their views on happiness (self-interest, or well-being) and on virtue (or morality), in order to bring out the relation of each to the other. Themes ran through many of these writers: psychological egoism, evaluative hedonism, and - after Hobbes - the acceptance of self-standing moral reasons. But there are exceptions, and even those taking the standard views adopt them for very different reasons and express them in various ways. As the ancients tended to believe that virtue and happiness largely coincide, so these modern authors are inclined to accept posthumous reward and punishment. Both positions sit uneasily with the common-sense idea that a person can truly sacrifice their own good for the sake of morality or for others. Roger Crisp shows that David Hume - a hedonist whose ethics made no appeal to the afterlife - was the first major British moralist to allow for, indeed to recommend, such self-sacrifice. Morality and well-being of course remain central to modern ethics, and Crisp demonstrates how much there is to learn from this remarkable group of philosophers.


1 Introduction: The Morality Question
2 Hobbes: The Return of Gyges
3 Cumberland: Divine Utilitarianism
4 More: An Enthusiasm for Virtue
5 Locke: The Sanctions of God
6 Mandeville: Morality after the Fall
7 Shaftesbury: Stoicism and the Art of Virtue
8 Hutcheson: Impartial Pleasures
9 Clarke: Virtue and the Life Hereafter
10 Butler: The Supremacy of Conscience
11 Reid: The Goodness of Virtue, and its Limits
12 Hume: The Utility of Morality
13 Smith: The Delusions of Self-love
14 Price: Morality as God
15 Gay, Tucker, Paley, and Bentham: Variations on the Theme of Happiness


Roger Crisp is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford and Uehiro Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of Reasons and the Good (Oxford 2006) and The Cosmos of Duty: Henry Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics (Oxford 2015), co-editor of Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin (with Brad Hooker; Clarendon Press 2000), and editor of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics (Oxford 2013) and Griffin on Human Rights (Oxford 2014).