Nature and the Good: An exploration of ancient ethical naturalism in Cicero’s De finibus

Pensamiento y Cultura 14 (2):145-163 (2011)
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This paper investigates the differences between ancient Greek and modern ethical naturalism, through the account of the whole classical tradition provided by Cicero in De finibus bonorum et malorum. Ever since Hume’s remarks on the topic, it is usually held that derivations of normative claims from factual claims require some kind of proper justification. It ́s a the presence of such justifications in the Epicurean, Stoic, and Academic-Peripatetic ethical theories (as portrayed in De finibus), and, after a negative conclusion, I argue that we should conceive of this issue within a social-historical perspective: The radical difference between ancient and modern naturalistic ethics is due (in Weber’s terms) to the rationalization processes that generated the modern outlook on nature.
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