Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Moral Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain
God, Self, and Other

  • Date Published: June 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108431316


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available for inspection. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an inspection copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The long eighteenth century is a crucial period in the history of ethics, when our moral relations to God, ourselves and others were minutely examined and our duties, rights and virtues systematically and powerfully presented. Colin Heydt charts the history of practical morality - what we ought to do and to be - from the 1670s, when practical ethics arising from Protestant natural law gained an institutional foothold in England, to early British responses to the French Revolution around 1790. He examines the conventional philosophical positions concerning the content of morality, and utilizes those conventions to reinterpret the work of key figures including Locke, Hume, and Smith. Situating these positions in their thematic and historical contexts, he shows how studying them challenges our assumptions about the originality, intended audience, and aims of philosophical argument during this period. His rich and readable book will appeal to a range of scholars and students.

    • Provides a new approach to a key era of moral thought, focusing on the content of morality rather than on the theory of morals
    • Presents an overview of the conventional moral philosophy of the period which situates the work of prominent philosophers in relation to each other, improving readers' understanding of contextual and thematic issues
    • Engages with a variety of topics, including natural rights and secularization, and with a range of philosophers, including Locke, Hume, and Smith
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the development of British moral philosophy in this period is irreducibly complex; Heydt's book is an immensely valuable contribution to our understanding of it.' Tim Stuart-Buttle, Journal of Scottish Philosophy

    'Heydt explains clearly - with reference to a very wide variety of primary sources, some well-known, most unfamiliar - how teachers of moral philosophy in Britain in the eighteenth century presented their students with their duties to God, to themselves, and to others. All in all, this is a marvellous book … what especially struck me was the light it sheds on what the majority of moral philosophers in this place and time thought was the real point of their work.' James A. Harris, Journal of the History of Philosophy

    'Heydt's scholarship is formidable. For those immersed in the literature of the period, this book will further their researches. For those, like this reviewer, who lack background knowledge in which to place the great figures, Heydt supplies a huge amount of information that could not otherwise be obtained except by great (and even tedious) labour. All those interested in [eighteenth-century] ethics are in his debt.' David McNaughton, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108431316
    • length: 297 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Foundations:
    1. 'Morality not in accordance with virtues but in accordance with duties': the Pufendorfian shift in moral philosophy
    2. The structure of practical ethics: duty and virtue
    3. The structure of practical ethics: duty and right
    Part II. Relations to God:
    4. Duties to God, revelation, and morality's history
    5. Breaking with convention: Hume, Smith, moral philosophy, and the God of natural religion
    Part III. Relations to Self:
    6. Moral relations to self and the significance of self-harm
    7. Anthropological optimism, pessimism, and the scope of self-cultivation
    Part IV. Relations to Others:
    8. Relating to others: natural rights and community
    9. Why not polygamy? Natural law and the family
    10. Political jurisprudence and its limits.

  • Author

    Colin Heydt, University of South Florida
    Colin Heydt is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida. His work has been published in numerous journals and he is the author of Rethinking Mill's Ethics: Character and Aesthetic Education (2006).

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.