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Mandeville, Bernard

  1. Charlotte R. Brown

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee620

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Brown, C. R. 2013. Mandeville, Bernard. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


As journalist, satirist, social critic, and moral philosopher, Bernard Mandeville (1670–1733) aimed to be provocative and he succeeded. He attracted the attention of almost every thinker in the eighteenth century because his doctrines were thought to be offensive and dangerous. He was regarded as an advocate for immorality and irreligion as well as a more cynical reincarnation of Hobbes. He endorses government-run brothels, argues that Christianity is useful for making good soldiers, and seems to defend the idea that vice makes a nation flourish and prosper. Moral philosophers were repelled by his depiction of human beings as selfish and unruly creatures and were shocked by his claim that morality is nothing but an invention used by clever politicians to tame us. Many took Mandeville to be denying the reality of virtue.


  • nineteenth century