Hume's Moral Theory

Hume's Moral Theory

Hume's Moral Theory

Hume's Moral Theory

Synopsis

Preface 1. Introduction: Outline of Hume's Theory 2. Some Predecessors: Hobbes, Shaftesbury, Clarke, Wollaston, Mandeville, Hutcheson, Butler 3. Hume's Psychology of Action (Treatise II iii 3) 4. Morality not Based on Reason (Treatise III 1 1) 5. Variants of Sentimentalism (Treatise III 1 2) 6. The Artificial Virtues: Justice and Property (Treatise III 11 1-4); The Obligation of Promises (Treatise III ii 5); The Artificiality of Justice (Treatise III ii 6); The Origin of Government and the Limits of Political Obligation (Treatise III 11 7-10); International Justice (Treatise III ii 11); Chastity and Modesty (Treatise III ii 12) 7. The Natural Virtues (Treaties III iii 1-5) 8. Some Successors: Smith, Price, Reid 9. Conclusions Notes Index

Excerpt

Hume's moral theory has been relatively neglected, as compared with some other parts of his philosophy. Indeed, all that many reasonably well-informed students of philosophy know about it is that he said (or, alternatively, that he did not say) that you cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is'. But Hume's Law, as this has been called, is not the whole, or even the most important part, of his moral theory. It is compatible with an objectivist or intuitionist view which Hume would certainly have rejected, and it contains no hint of his fascinating account of what he called the artificial virtues, or of his anticipations of utilitarianism, to which Bentham ascribed his own conversion to that doctrine. Also, Hume's theory is best seen in the context of, and as a contribution to, an extended debate on moral philosophy which we can take as beginning with Hobbes, being continued by members of both the 'rationalist' and the 'moral sense' or 'sentimentalist' schools, and concluding with the writings of two of Hume's critics, Richard Price and Thomas Reid. Some of the main issues in this debate are whether there are, or are not, objective moral values, whether men are by nature completely selfish or are 'made for society', whether morality depends in any way upon God and religion, and how and by what faculty we discern the difference between vice and virtue. The works in which this debate was carried on were addressed to an educated general public rather than to specialists in philosophy, and they are written in a straightforward, forthright way, without technicalities or obfuscation or evasion. They are not free from errors and fallacies, but where they go wrong they do so openly, and their mistakes are often pointed out by other participants in the debate. I think, therefore, that attention to this debate is a very good method of

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.