This book is a selective historical and critical study of moral philosophy in the Socratic tradition, with special attention to Aristotelian naturalism. It explores moral philosophy through discussion of its history. ‘Moral philosophy’ refers to the discipline practised by (among others) Socrates, Chrysippus, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Henry Sidgwick, and John Rawls. It is distinct, though not sharply distinct and not always distinct in the same way, from such closely related disciplines as metaphysics, epistemology, and other areas of philosophy; cosmology, theology, religion, and casuistry; natural science, social anthropology, economics, sociology, and cultural and intellectual history. No doubt, moral philosophers have conceived their tasks quite differently at different times, but the book believes their conceptions are close enough to justify in speaking of one discipline. This belief needs to be tested by examination of the historical evidence. The moral philosophers chosen for extended discussion belong to the Socratic tradition and discuss different aspects of Aristotelian naturalism.
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