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    A virtuous practice: Descartes on scientific activity

    James, Susan (2017) A virtuous practice: Descartes on scientific activity. In: Wilson, C. and Gaukroger, S. (eds.) Descartes and Cartesianism: Essays in Honour of Desmond Clarke. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 26-41. ISBN 9780198779643.

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    This chapter examines the link between Descartes’ scientific method and his conception of moral virtue. James argues that the qualities a Cartesian philosopher-scientist needs to cultivate are precisely those that Descartes puts at the centre of his account of virtue. As one becomes a skilled investigator, one simultaneously becomes a virtuous person. To elucidate this claim, James focuses on the passionate aspect of scientific enquiry. She explores the roles of indecision and wonder in scientific investigation, and shows how philosopher-scientists can use these passions to monitor and improve their own practice. As they learn to modify their passions, they exercise the central virtue of générosité. Descartes’ conception of morality therefore implicitly represents science as a self-sufficient undertaking that is morally valuable in itself.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): René Descartes, the passions, virtue, générosité, philosopher-scientists, scientific enquiry
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2017 08:28
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2020 09:44


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