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Durham e-Theses
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The Science and Logic of William Paley's Moral Philosophy

WANG, CAN (2021) The Science and Logic of William Paley's Moral Philosophy. Masters thesis, Durham University.



William Paley's The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy is one of the most influential modern works of theological utilitarianism. His views on moral philosophy, evidentialism and natural theology were required reading in English universities up until the 1850s. It is the purpose of this thesis to argue that Paley believed his moral philosophy to be a science that operated according to logical principles. Chapter 1 outlines the intellectual environment, religious context and secondary literature about Paley's moral philosophy. Chapter 2 avers that Paley used Scripture and personal experience as evidence for providing a rational basis for moral knowledge. Focusing on the notion of moral law, Chapter 3 discusses the innovative principles of happiness and expediency through which Paley created a criterion of conduct that was grounded on rational evidence. Last but not least, since the Principles was a textbook in the Cambridge syllabus, Chapter 4, argues that Paley adopted a more accessible synthetic method of argumentation for educational purposes. The conclusion explains how the thesis's argument extends and challenges current interpretations of Paley's ideas.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 May 2021 13:02

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