In "German Ethics", Wolff defends the objectivist view that free actions are intrinsically good or evil, “and they are not made such just by God’s will” (§5). Drawing on Grotius’s so-called impious hypothesis, Wolff claims that free actions would remain good or evil even in the hypothetical case that God did not exist – which turns out to be at odds with Wolff’s principle that essences have their origin in God’s intellect, so that if God did not exist, there would be no essences at all. This chapter sheds light on the problematic relation between Wolff’s theological foundation of essentialism and his non-theological foundation of ethics. After reconstructing the evolution of Wolff’s doctrine of obligation from 1703 to 1720, I consider the subsequent polemics against Wolff’s moral objectivism, his later account of adiaphora, and his reaction to the charge of inconsistency.

Objective Morality: Wolff and the Impious Hypothesis

Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero
2024-01-01

Abstract

In "German Ethics", Wolff defends the objectivist view that free actions are intrinsically good or evil, “and they are not made such just by God’s will” (§5). Drawing on Grotius’s so-called impious hypothesis, Wolff claims that free actions would remain good or evil even in the hypothetical case that God did not exist – which turns out to be at odds with Wolff’s principle that essences have their origin in God’s intellect, so that if God did not exist, there would be no essences at all. This chapter sheds light on the problematic relation between Wolff’s theological foundation of essentialism and his non-theological foundation of ethics. After reconstructing the evolution of Wolff’s doctrine of obligation from 1703 to 1720, I consider the subsequent polemics against Wolff’s moral objectivism, his later account of adiaphora, and his reaction to the charge of inconsistency.
2024
Christian Wolff’s German Ethics: New Essays
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5046527
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