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Campbell, Archibald (1691–1756)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DA086-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Archibald Campbell was a Scottish moral philosopher and theologian. Like his more famous contemporary Francis Hutcheson, Campbell studied with the controversial theologian John Simson in Glasgow. In his moral philosophy, Campbell vigorously defends an egoistic view of human nature as solely motivated by self-love, and he rejects Hutcheson’s claims about the reality of disinterested benevolence and of a disinterested moral sense. However, much like Hutcheson, Campbell combines his assertion of the selfish hypothesis with an optimism regarding our naturally virtuous tendencies. This opposes Hobbes and Mandeville, as well as orthodox Calvinism.

Campbell presents self-love as a morally innocent source of motives, and claims that in the form of the desire for esteem, it motivates us to morally virtuous actions. In his philosophy of religion, Campbell stresses the incapacity of natural reason to discover the fundamental truths of religion without supernatural revelation. Purportedly against the Deists, Campbell also argues for the reality of immutable moral laws of nature. In 1735/6, these claims, along with others, caused Campbell to be examined by a conservative orthodox Presbyterian Committee for Purity of Doctrine. Campbell’s case allows for crucial insights into the profound transformations of moral philosophy and theology at the dawn of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Citing this article:
Maurer, Christian. Campbell, Archibald (1691–1756), 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DA086-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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