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Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment
Berkeley revisited
moral, social and political philosophy

Volume: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment 2015:09
Series editor: Jonathan Mallinson
Volume editor(s): Sébastien Charles
Date of publication: September 2015

Pagination: xii + 308 pp., pb (broché)

Price: £65 / €77 / $86

  ISBN-13: 978-0-7294-1167-7

Description: Since the publication of Paul J. Olscamp’s The Moral philosophy of George Berkeley (1970), research has focused on Berkeley’s theory of immaterialism as the defining element of his thinking. New readings of his work gathered in this volume position immaterialism as a component of a much broader, overarching apologetic project, which is highly pragmatic in nature.
Through close examinations of Berkeley’s writings on key political, economic, social, moral and ethical debates, leading experts demonstrate that his writings are not simply theoretical but also bound to a practical concern with the well-being of humanity. The volume opens with nuanced analyses of Berkeley’s utilitarianism, which contributors position more precisely as a theological utilitarianism, a facet of natural law and a theory with a distinctly pragmatic basis. This doctrine is reconsidered in the context of Berkeley’s moral philosophy, with contributors highlighting the implications of free will for the evaluation of personal (or divine) responsibility for one’s actions. Berkeley’s concept of desire is reconfigured as a virtue, when channelled towards the common good of society. Contributors close by reassessing Berkeley’s political and economic thought and uncover its practical dimension, where individualism is sacrificed for the greater, national interest.
The George Berkeley to emerge from this book is a philosopher deeply concerned with the political, economic and social problems of his time, and whose writings proposed practical and not simply theoretical solutions to the challenges facing Britain in the eighteenth century.

Sébastien Charles, Introduction
Heta Aleksandra Gylling, Berkeley as a worldly philosopher
Artem Besedin, Berkeley on the natural laws of society
Daniel E. Flage, Ethics in Alciphron
Stephen H. Daniel, Berkeley, Hobbes and the constitution of the self
Richard J. Van Iten, Berkeley’s pragmatic bent: its implications for his social philosophy
Melissa Frankel, Actions, behaviours and volitions in Berkeley’s moral philosophy
Timo Airaksinen, Vulgar thoughts: Berkeley on responsibility and freedom
Hugh Hunter, Berkeley on doing good and meaning well
Marta Szymańska-Lewoszewska, Berkeley’s double understanding of ‘social appetite’
Scott Breuninger, Improving the health of the nation: Berkeley, virtue and Ireland
Sébastien Charles, De Pascal à Locke: la reprise berkeleyenne des enjeux philosophiques concernant la tolérance religieuse et civile
Marc A. Hight, Berkeley on economic bubbles
Adam Grzelinski, George Berkeley’s understanding of beauty and his polemic with Shaftesbury
Jérémy Girard, La bonne société d’après Berkeley: entre éducation religieuse et coutume raisonnable
Nancy Kendrick, Berkeley’s Bermuda project and The Ladies library
Pascal Taranto, Le travail de la sagesse: philosophie et exercice spirituel chez George Berkeley

Collaborator list: Timo Airaksinen, University of Helsinki; Artem Besedin, Moscow State University; Scott Breuninger, University of South Dakota; Sébastien Charles, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières; Stephen H. Daniel, Texas A&M University; Daniel E. Flage, James Madison University, VA; Melissa Frankel, Carleton University; Jérémy Girard, Université de Nantes; Adam Grzelinski, Nicolaus Copernicus University; Heta Aleksandra Gylling, University of Helsinki; Marc A. Hight, Hampden-Sydney College, VA; Hugh Hunter, Dominican University College, Ottawa; Nancy Kendrick, Wheaton College, MA; Marta Szymańska-Lewoszewska, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland; Richard J. Van Iten, Iowa State University; Pascal Taranto, Université Aix-Marseille.

Collaborator biographies: Sébastien Charles is Dean of Research and Innovation at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. His research in modern and contemporary philosophy focuses on idealism and scepticism in the classical age, and he has written and edited numerous publications on Berkeley, Hume, and Enlightenment scepticism.