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Cavendish, Margaret, , . Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world / written by the thrice noble, illustrious, and excellent princesse, the Duchess of Newcastle.
2001, Edited by E. O'Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy).
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Added by: Benjamin Goldberg, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Margaret Cavendish’s 1668 edition of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, presented here in its first modern edition, holds a unique position in early modern philosophy. Cavendish rejects the Aristotelianism which was taught in the universities in the seventeenth century, and the picture of nature as a grand machine which was propounded by Hobbes, Descartes and members of the Royal Society of London, such as Boyle. She also rejects the views of nature which make reference to immaterial spirits. Instead she develops an original system of organicist materialism, and draws on the doctrines of ancient Stoicism to attack the tenets of seventeenth-century mechanical philosophy. Her treatise is a document of major importance in the history of women’s contributions to philosophy and science.

Comment: In this work, Cavendish argues against the experimental paradigm of the emerging Royal Society, contrasting their conception of passive, dead matter, with her own conception of vital materialism. This text will prove useful in conjunction with discussions of experiment and epistemology in early modern philosophy. Usefully paired with other philosophers like Boyle, Descartes, and Henry More, as well as scientists like William Harvey.

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Cohon, Rachel, , . Hume’s Moral Philosophy
2010, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]
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Introduction: Hume’s position in ethics, which is based on his empiricist theory of the mind, is best known for asserting four theses: (1) Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the “slave of the passions” (see Section 3) (2) Moral distinctions are not derived from reason (see Section 4). (3) Moral distinctions are derived from the moral sentiments: feelings of approval (esteem, praise) and disapproval (blame) felt by spectators who contemplate a character trait or action (see Section 7). (4) While some virtues and vices are natural (see Section 13), others, including justice, are artificial (see Section 9). There is heated debate about what Hume intends by each of these theses and how he argues for them. He articulates and defends them within the broader context of his metaethics and his ethic of virtue and vice.

Hume’s main ethical writings are Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, “Of Morals” (which builds on Book 2, “Of the Passions”), his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, and some of his Essays. In part the moral Enquiry simply recasts central ideas from the moral part of the Treatise in a more accessible style; but there are important differences. The ethical positions and arguments of the Treatise are set out below, noting where the moral Enquiry agrees; differences between the Enquiry and the Treatise are discussed afterwards.

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Nagel, Jennifer, , . Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Human beings naturally desire knowledge. But what is knowledge? Is it the same as having an opinion? Highlighting the major developments in the theory of knowledge from Ancient Greece to the present day, Jennifer Nagel uses a number of simple everyday examples to explore the key themes and current debates of epistemology.

Comment: As a contribution to the Oxford "very short introduction" seriers, this book is written to general public. This introductory book stands out due to its clarity, accessibility and coverage of topics. It might fall short of being a proper textbook for an epistemology course, but it constitutes a very good reading for all new-comers to epistemology. So it might be recommended as a further reading for a lower level undergraduate courses on epistemology or as an introduction to philosophy.

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Phemister, Pauline, , . The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz
2006, Polity.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Pauline Phemister

Publisher’s Note: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz stand out among their seventeenth-century contemporaries as the great rationalist philosophers. Each sought to construct a philosophical system in which theological and philosophical foundations serve to explain the physical, mental and moral universe. Through a careful analysis of their work, Pauline Phemister explores the rationalists seminal contribution to the development of modern philosophy. Broad terminological agreement and a shared appreciation of the role of reason in ethics do not mask the very significant disagreements that led to three distinctive philosophical systems: Cartesian dualism, Spinozan monism and Leibnizian pluralism. The book explores the nature of, and offers reasons for, these differences. Phemister contends that Spinoza and Leibniz developed their systems in part through engagements with and amendment of Cartesian philosophy, and critically analyses the arguments and contributions of all three philosophers. The clarity of the authors discussion of their key ideas including their views on knowledge, universal languages, the nature of substance and substances, bodies, the relation of mind and body, freedom, and the role of distinct perception and reason in morals will make this book the ideal introduction to rationalist philosophy

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