A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals

A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals

A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals

A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals

Excerpt

Richard Price was born in 1723 at Tynton, Glamorganshire, and died in 1791 at Hackney. A book of Memoirs of his life was written by his nephew,William Morgan , in 1815, and there is a good modern biography by Roland Thomas (Richard Price, Clarendon Press, 1924).

The Review of Morals was first published in 1758, when Price was thirty-five years of age. A corrected Second Edition appeared in 1769, and a Third Edition, with further corrections and an Appendix containing additional notes and a Dissertation on the Deity, in 1787. No complete edition has been printed since that time, but extracts from the book were included in Sir L. A. Selby-Bigge's British Moralists (Clarendon Press, 1897). The present edition reproduces that of 1787 including its Appendix. The First and Second Editions were entitled A Review of the Principal Questions and Difficulties in Morals. The title of the Third Edition omitted the words 'and Difficulties'.

Price's views on ethical questions seem to have changed very little. Alterations in the Second and Third Editions of the Review show changes in his opinions on epistemology and metaphysics, but not on ethics; amendments here seem to be almost wholly on grounds of style. The system of ethics which is to be found in the present edition was fully worked out when Price was thirty-five. The typically 'deontological' or 'Kantian' approach, the insistence that duty often conflicts with private interest and sometimes with public; the distinction between 'absolute' and 'practical' virtue, the realization that what is imputable to a man is his obligation to do what he thinks right; and the perception that obligations may conflict: all these distinctions, which have recently been set . . .

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