Advertisement

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 35–52 | Cite as

Acceptance, Belief, and Descartes’s Provisional Morality

  • Adam KadlacEmail author
Article
  • 140 Downloads

Abstract

This paper explores Descartes’s work with an eye towards abiding issues in moral epistemology. In so doing, I focus on the role played by the so-called provisional morality that surfaces in “Discourse on the Method”. What I argue is that despite the tenuousness with which it seems to be held, Descartes remained committed to the truth of this morality even in the midst of his most strenuous philosophical reflections. Put in the contemporary epistemological terms which provide the context of my discussion, I argue that Descartes believed in the goodness of his provisional morality as opposed to merely accepting its maxims.

Key words

Descartes moral epistemology acceptance belief 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am greatly indebted to Antonia LoLordo and an anonymous referee at this Journal for their helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper. Whatever is of value in the final product owes much to their efforts. I am also grateful to the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture for their financial and collegial support throughout this project.

References

  1. Adam Ch, Tannery P (eds) (1964–1976) Oeuvres de Descartes. Vrin/C.N.R.S., ParisGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker LR (2002) Philosophy in Mediis Rebus. Metaphilosophy 32(4):378–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bratman ME (1987) Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  4. Bratman ME (1992) Practical reasoning and acceptance in a context. Mind 101(401):1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burnyeat M (1983a) Can the sceptic live his scepticism? In: Burnyeat MF (ed) The sceptical tradition. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnyeat M (1983b) The sceptic in his time and place. In: Burnyeat MF (ed) The sceptical tradition. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  7. Descartes R (1984) The philosophical writings of Descartes, vol. I, John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch (translators). Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Fine G (2000) Descartes and ancient skepticism: reheated cabbage? Philos Rev 109(2):195–234Google Scholar
  9. MacIntyre A (1984) After virtue. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, INGoogle Scholar
  10. Marshall J (1998) Descartes’s moral theory. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  11. Plantinga A (1983) Reason and belief in god. In: Plantinga A, Wolterstorff N (eds) Faith and rationality. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, INGoogle Scholar
  12. Stalnaker RC (1984) Inquiry. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  13. Taylor C (1989) Sources of the self. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  14. Williams B (1978) Descartes: the project of pure inquiry. Humanities Press, Inc., Atlantic Highlands, NJGoogle Scholar
  15. Williams B (1985) Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Corcoran Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations