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Empire, mutability, and moral philosophy in early modernity
Author: Andrew Wadoski

At the heart of Edmund Spenser’s moral allegory in The Faerie Queene is a problem that would become central to English intellectual life well into the modern era: understanding colonialism, and the coercive violence on which it depends, as a form of moral activity. Spenser’s ethics reads Spenser as a moral theorist whose ethics are significantly shaped by his experiences as a colonial administrator in Elizabethan Ireland. It illustrates how both his poetry and prose take up key shifts in early modern moral philosophy, while addressing the political project of colonial empire-building. This book is an essential study of Spenser as an ethicist grappling, on the one hand, with the decline and transformation of the classical and humanist virtue ethics tradition in the late sixteenth century, and on the other, with imagining new paradigms of heroic subjectivity for the early modern, imperial nation. It examines the ways Spenser draws on and reworks the Western ethical tradition during a period of tremendous cultural upheaval and political transformation, and illuminates that philosophical tradition’s evolution alongside early modern England’s wider political and economic transformation into a global nation-state built on the foundations of colonial expansion. Emphasizing the conceptual rigor, clarity, and coherence of Spenser’s moral vision, it depicts Spenser as a literary ethicist rigorously committed to discovering a politically and metaphysically viable account of moral life in an era that starkly reveals the ancient virtues’ conceptual and practical limitations.

A poststructuralist moral theory for the twenty-first century
Author: Mark Olssen

To understand how subjects are constructed socially and historically in terms of power, and how they act through power on others and on themselves, but not to see this as a purely random process or activity where ‘anything goes’, or conversely, portray ethical actions in terms of fixed universal rules or specified teleological ends, constitutes the objective of this book. What a normative Foucault can offer us, I claim, is a critical ethics of the present that is well and truly beyond Kant, Hegel. and Marx, and which can guide action and conduct for the twenty-first century.

New interdisciplinary essays
Editor: Bronwen Price

Francis Bacon produced his final draft of the New Atlantis around the years 1624-1625. Standing at the threshold of early modern thought, Bacon's text operates at the interstices of its contemporary culture and does indeed signal a desire to 'illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge'. This book presents a collection of essays that show how the New Atlantis negotiates a variety of contexts, namely literary, philosophical, political, religious and social, in order to achieve this. The narrative begins with a standard literary device. When Bacon wrote the New Atlantis, he clearly had More's Utopia in mind as a model. For all his strictures on the use of language for rhetorical effect, Francis Bacon was thoroughly grounded in the Renaissance art of rhetoric. He consciously drew on his rhetorical skill in his writings, adapting his style as occasion demanded. The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. The book discusses two forms of natural knowledge that Bacon takes up and develops in the New Atlantis: natural magic, and medicine. The modern project is crucially dependent on two fundamental miracles: the miracle of creation and the miracle of divine revelation. The book also analyses Bacon's representations of colonialism and Jewishness in the New Atlantis has revealed. The New Atlantis raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge.

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Andrew Wadoski

Spenser’s late-stage humanism may seem like an idiosyncratic detour in the wider historical development of moral philosophy. However, his interrogations of the virtue ethics tradition’s increasingly evident inutility in the context of early English colonialism notably frame his ethics among concerns that would become pivotal to the transforming discipline of moral

in Spenser’s ethics
John Coggon, Sarah Chan, Søren Holm, and Thomasine Kushner

beliefs. In the context of moral philosophy, Tännsjö notes that foundationalism can lead to scepticism, given that what is self-evidently true varies between people and across time. Tännsjö does not aim or purport to answer the question of whether foundationalism or coherentism is a superior approach to understanding moral truth. Rather, he uses his chapter to explore coherentism, and examine the approach it lends to justification in moral theory (noting, as he does, that rather than provide a method it provides a criterion of justification). After all, we want our

in From reason to practice in bioethics
The meaning of Shils
Thomas Schneider

for the discipline today: the understanding of what Shils called ‘the constitution of society’ (Shils, 1982a), Shils’ way of thinking needs to be understood by placing it outside the boundaries of sociological consciousness. In my opinion, Shils tried to solve a larger problem by analysing the genesis and dynamics of (conflicting) values in the process of human action. Eventually, I will conclude by reinterpreting Shils through placing his line of thought in the context of contemporary social theory and moral philosophy. My aim will be to portray Shils as a thinker

in The calling of social thought
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Action and agency
Lynn Dobson

degree, a structural parallel too.) Whatever our standing at any particular moment, it follows from the PGC that when we are dealing with others we must be attentive to and respect their rights to freedom and well-being as well as our own, and we should expect them to be attentive to and respective of our generic rights as well as their own. Attention to recipients’ rights will often mean agents reconsidering and moderating what they believe their own rights entitle them to do, or choosing not to exercise them. Gewirth’s moral philosophy develops and sets out more

in Supranational Citizenship
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The mingled yarn of Elizabethan tragedy
Jonathan Bate

‘prince of philosophers’, but his knowledge of the works seems to have been confined to Latin translations of the Politics and the Ethics . For most educated Elizabethans, Aristotle was a master of political theory and moral philosophy. He was not primarily a literary critic. The Elizabethan version of the Poetics was an indirect one. The classical dramatist most frequently studied at school

in Doing Kyd
Jeffrey Hopes

early eighteenth-century moral philosophy cannot be reduced to matters of grammar or semantics, but it is important to re-establish those reflexive links which such pronouns and compound nouns suggest and which always accompany and vastly outnumber the use of the word ‘self’ in isolation. The tentative hypothesis underlying what follows is that in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth 60 SELF-LOVE IN MANDEVILLE AND HUTCHESON centuries, the isolation of self, its elevation to the status of a thing ‘in itself’, emerges from such reflexive usages in the course of

in Writing and constructing the self in Great Britain in the long eighteenth century
Mark Olssen

not see ethical attitudes as merely expressive of desires. Continuance constitutes an objective basis for ethics and morality, with objectivity precariously defined in reference to the possibilities of life traversing to the future. 12 It is what will enable me to classify certain desires or values as irrational or immoral if they deny reasonable possibilities for continuance. Some readers may by this stage wonder why I am defending such a point, but the dominant trend in ethics and moral philosophy since the collapse of intuitionism in the first half of the

in Constructing Foucault’s ethics