Lord Shaftesbury [Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury]

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


A review of the philosophy of Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, lived from 1671 to 1713. He was one of the most important philosophers of his day, and exerted an enormous influence on European thought throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Shaftesbury received less attention in the twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century there has been a significant increase in scholarship on his work.

Shaftesbury believed that humans are designed to appreciate order and harmony, and that proper appreciation of order and harmony is the basis of correct judgments about morality, beauty, and religion. He was at the forefront of developing the idea of a moral sense, of explicating aesthetic experience, of defending political liberty and tolerance, and of arguing for religious belief based on reason and observation rather than revelation or scripture. Shaftesbury thought the purpose of philosophy was to help people lead better lives. Towards that end, he aimed to write persuasively and for the educated populace as a whole, deploying a wide variety of styles and literary forms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Archive
EditorsEdward N. Zalta
EditionSummer 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
ISSN (Electronic)1095-5054


Dive into the research topics of 'Lord Shaftesbury [Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury]'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this