Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s moral philosophy

2017-02-28T05:03:15Z (GMT) by Sund, Elizabeth Mary Katherine Anne
In this thesis, I defend Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s moral philosophy from the accusation that her simultaneous embrace of rationalism and empiricism commits her to certain logical inconsistencies. Those who accuse Cockburn of inconsistency have failed to identify the components of her theory that they find objectionable. The accusations are not completely unfounded because Cockburn does inherit certain ambiguities from John Locke. In order to repudiate the accusations, I identify tensions in Cockburn’s work that a critic might claim automatically commit her to certain logical inconsistencies. While some of the ambiguities remain unresolved, I show that Cockburn combines elements of rationalism and empiricism to form a coherent theory. She corrects elements of Locke that would otherwise be incompatible with her rationalism, meaning she is not a simple mouthpiece for his philosophy. The goal of this thesis is to lay to rest the unjustified accusations of inconsistency against Cockburn so that present-day readers can judge her work with fresh eyes.