Shaftesbury's claim that beauty and good are one and the same

Michael B. Gill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shaftesbury is famous for claiming that "Beauty and Good" are "one and the same." This claim is central to Shaftesbury's philosophy, and it exerted great influence on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European thought. At the same time, the claim has long been criticized as being ill-conceived, unclear, and confused. I explicate the meaning of Shaftesbury's claim and show that it is not susceptible to many of the long-standing criticisms that have been leveled at it. In its canonical form in The Moralists, the beauty-good claim is intelligible, and Shaftesbury has cogent reasons for advancing it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-92
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the History of Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Beauty
  • Shaftesbury
  • The Moralists
  • Virtue


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