Readings, reconstructions, and reception
Three case studies of Anglophone reception of Cartesian ethics
Nyckelord:Henry Sidgwick, Grace Neal Dolson, Henry More, Descartes, moral par provision, reception history
I argue that reception history can have a, limited but important, role to play as tie-breaker in the evaluation of reconstructions of historical philosophical arguments and positions. In an effort to exemplify the proposed methodology I argue that Lisa Shapiro’s rational reconstruction of Descartes’s provisional moral code in terms of a broad conception of morality supplies us with an interpretative framework that have greater historiographical resources than its main competitors when it comes to the reception of Descartes’s moral philosophy in an Anglophone context on three occasions: the appeal to Descartes made by Henry More, Henry Sidgwick’s abrupt dismissal, and the ensuing reaction to Sidgwick found in Grace Neal Dolson. These cases, although far from exhaustive, go some way towards showing, I maintain, how reception history can be utilized to inform and support rational reconstruction of philosophical texts.