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The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy

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This classic work by William Paley was one of the most popular books in England and America in the early nineteenth century. Its significance lies in the fact that it marks an important point at which eighteenth-century “whiggism” began to be transformed into nineteenth-century “liberalism.”

First published in 1785, Paley’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy was originally based on his Cambridge lectures of 1766–1776. It was designed for instructional purposes and was almost immediately adopted as a required text for all undergraduates at Cambridge.

The great popularity of Paley’s Principlesis perhaps due in part to the author’s remarkable gift for clear exposition. Even today, this work is very readable and easily comprehended. But the popularity of the book also reflected the fact that Paley expressed some of the leading scientific, theological, and ethical ideas of his time and place. In this respect, Paley’s great classic provides valuable insight into the Anglo-American mind of the early nineteenth century and helps us better understand the thinking processes and evolving concepts of liberty and virtue that were displacing the old “whiggism” of the preceding century.

Συγγραφέας: Paley William
Εκδότης: LIBERTY FUND
Σελίδες: 525
ISBN: 9780865973817
Εξώφυλλο: Μαλακό Εξώφυλλο
Αριθμός Έκδοσης: 1
Έτος έκδοσης: 2002

William Paley, (born July 1743, Peterborough, Northamptonshire [now in Cambridgeshire], England—died May 25, 1805, Lincoln, Lincolnshire), English Anglican priest, Utilitarian philosopher, and author of influential works on Christianity, ethics, and science, among them the standard exposition in English theology of the teleological argument for the existence of God. Educated at Giggleswick School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, Paley graduated in 1763 as senior wrangler and was appointed fellow and tutor of his college in 1766. After becoming rector of Musgrave (1775), Dalston (1776), and Appleby (1777), he was made archdeacon of Carlisle (1782) and later a canon of St. Paul’s (1794), subdean of Lincoln (1795), and rector of Bishop-Wearmouth (1795). Paley’s most important works were The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), the subject of lectures at the University of Cambridge; A View of the Evidence of Christianity (1794), which was required reading for entrance to Cambridge until the 20th century; and Natural Theology (1802), based on John Ray’s Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691). In Natural Theology, Paley used the analogy of the watch: both the world and the watch presuppose a maker. The book strongly influenced Charles Darwin.

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