Moral pluralism in smith and his contemporaries

Michael B. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


What role do general principles play in our moral judgment? This question has been much contested among moral theorists of the last fifteen years. When we turn to the British moralists of the eighteenth century, we find that the same question was equally pressing. In this paper, I show that while many of the British moralists thought that general principles could conclusively determine our moral duties, David Hume and Adam Smith were ambivalent about the role of moral principles, not only giving expression to the common view of principles' power but also exploring the possibility that principles could not fill the justificatory space typically allotted them. Hume and Smith, I show, constitute fascinating transitional figures in our thinking about the role of general moral principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-306
Number of pages32
JournalRevue Internationale de Philosophie
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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