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Hume’s Moral Sentimentalism. July 10, 2012. REASON “gets the facts straight” while SENTIMENT makes the moral judgment. Reason vs. Sentiment. Subtle Distinctions. The Basic Human Sentiment is composed of two aspects: Sympathy Benevolence

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Presentation Transcript
basic human sentiment

The Basic Human Sentiment is composed of two aspects:

    • Sympathy
    • Benevolence
  • Humans who are do not have these aspects are somehow “broken.”
Basic Human Sentiment
natural vs artificial virtues

Justice is a virtue, but it is artificial.

  • If there were abundance, there would be no need for justice.
  • If there were absolute scarcity or lawlessness, there would be no need for justice.
  • Justice and other artificial virtues (e.g. chastity) are esteemed because they are useful.
Natural vs. Artificial Virtues
why utility pleases
Why Utility Pleases

(Enquiry, Section 5)

human nature

Given the Basic Human Sentiment, our moral feelings are NATURAL.

  • Thus, any morality that requires one to violate one’s own (natural) moral feelings will lack (a) applicability, (b) internalsupport, and, given Hume’s moral psychology, (c) externalsupport.
Human Nature
basic human sentiment vs moral egoism

The human countenance, says HORACE, borrows smiles or tears from the human countenance.” (Enquiry V.2.18)

The moral egoist presupposes that one’s moral sentiment is under their control, but it is not.

Our sympathy with others is natural: “How delicate is our sympathy!” (Enquiry V.2.37)

Basic Human Sentiment vs. Moral Egoism
basic human sentiment as universal

The intercourse of sentiments, therefore, in society and conversation, makes us form some general unalterable standard.” (EnquiryV.2.42)

  • It appears also, that, in our general approbation of characters and manners, the useful tendency of the social virtues moves us not by any regards to self-interest, but has an influence much more universal and extensive.” (Enquiry V.2.45)
Basic Human Sentiment as Universal
basic human sentiment as universal1

When a man denominates another his enemy, his rival, his antagonist, his adversary, he is understood to speak the language of self-love, and to express sentiments, peculiar to himself, and arising from his particular circumstances and situation. But when he bestows on any man the epithets of vicious or odious or depraved, he then speaks another language, and expresses sentiments, in which, he expects, all his audience are to concur with him.” (Enquiry IX.1.6)

Basic Human Sentiment as Universal
the epithet useful

What praise is implied by the simple epithet useful!” (Enquiry II.2.13)

Things and/or states of affairs are valuable insofar as they are esteemed useful.

The Epithet “Useful”
theory of value

Something is INTRINSICALLY GOOD if it always esteemed with approbation (love/pride).

  • Something is INTRINSICALLY BAD if it always esteemed with disapprobation (hate/shame).
Theory of Value
theory of character

A person is VIRTUOUS if one’s character is one that is held in good esteem (love/pride).

  • A person is VICIOUS if one’s character is one that is not held in good esteem (hate/shame).
Theory of Character
theory of conduct

An action is FORBIDDEN if, upon correctly judging that such an action happened, one feels disapprobation (hate/shame).

  • An action is PERMISSIBLE if, upon correctly judging that such an action happened, one feels approbation (love/pride).
  • An action is OBLIGATORY if, upon correctly judging that such an action happened, one deems the action the very best action one could do.
Theory of Conduct
virtues

All virtues have to be capable of being explained in one of three ways:

    • Qualities useful to ourselves
    • Qualities agreeable to ourselves
    • Qualities agreeable to others
Virtues
qualities useful to ourselves

Discretion

  • Industry
  • Frugality
  • Strength of Mind
  • Memory
Qualities Useful to Ourselves
qualities agreeable to ourselves

Chearfulness (sic.)

  • Greatness of Mind
  • Courage
  • Tranquility
  • Benevolence
  • Delicacy of Taste (cf. Mill’s competent judge)
Qualities Agreeable to Ourselves
qualities agreeable to others

Politeness

  • Wit
  • Decency
  • Cleanliness
  • Manners
Qualities Agreeable to Others