Henry More’s Moral Philosophy: Self-Determination and its Limits

Sarah Hutton

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/szhf.2017.029


Cambridge Platonist, Henry More (1614–1687), his Enchiridion ethicum (1667), which was translated as An Account of Virtue. Although this book was widely known in More’s time, it is one of his most neglected works today. After outlining the development of More’s moral philosophy, I focus on three aspects of Enchiridion ethicum which give it its distinctive character: More’s emphasis on the role of both reason and the passions; his conception of a ‘boniform faculty’ by which the good may be sensed and enjoyed; and his account of free will as an internal principle of self determination. I highlight More’s distinction between two types of voluntary actions: free actions where the agent is able to exercise choice and necessary actions where the will of the agent is so determined that s/he has no choice.


Henry More; Cambridge Platonists; ethics; free will; boniform faculty

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