Hume, Justice and Sympathy: A Reversal of the Natural Order?

Sophie Botros

About author

Dr Sophie Botros
Research Fellow
Institute of Philosophy
School of Advanced Study
University of London
Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom
E-mail: sophie.botros@sophiebotros.com

Sophie Botros is the author of Hume, Reason and Morality:  A Legacy of Contradiction, Routledge, Oxford (2006), and of numerous articles.  She reviewed Rachel Cohon’s Hume’s Morality:  Feeling and Fabrication (2008) for Hume Studies (2008), and for the Philosophical Review (2012), and Annette Baier’s The Cautious Jealous Virtue  (2010) for the Review of Metaphysics (2010).  She is  Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, and was previously Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London, and has  taught in the Universities of Stirling, Essex, and King’s College, London.

Abstract


Hume’s view that the object of moral feeling is a natural passion,  motivating action, causes problems for  justice. There is apparently no appropriate natural motive, whilst, if there were, its “partiality” would unfit it to ground the requisite impartial approval.  We offer a critique of such solutions as that the missing non-moral motive is enlightened self-interest (Baier), or that it is feigned (Haakonssen), or that it consists in a just disposition (Gauthier).  We reject Cohon’s postulation of a moral motive for just acts, and also Harris’s attempt to dispense with motive as the source of their merit, by invoking extensive sympathy, and citing their  beneficial societal consequences. These solutions assume that, if Hume remains a virtue ethicist, the natural virtues supply the paradigm. Taylor claims that a revolution in motivational psychology follows the inauguration of the artificial convention of justice, remoulding the natural virtues. This solution founders, we argue, upon unresolved contradictions besetting  even these virtues

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References


  1. A. Baier, Progress of Sentiments, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 1991.
  2. A. Baier, “Artificial Virtues and the Equally Sensible Non-Knaves: A Response to Gauthier,” Hume Studies 18 (2) 1992, p. 429–439.
  3. S. Botros, Hume, Reason and Morality: A Legacy of Contradiction, Routledge, Oxford 2006.
  4. R. Cohon, Hume’s Morality: Feeling and Fabrication, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008.
  5. M. Collier, “Hume’s Theory of Moral Imagination,” History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (3) 2010, p. 255–273.
  6. S. Darwall, The British Moralists and the Internal ‘Ought’ 1640–1740, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1995.
  7. D. Garrett, “The First Motive to Justice: Hume’s ’Circle Argument’ Squared,” Hume Studies 33 (2) 2007, p. 257–288.
  8. D. Gauthier, “Artificial Virtues and the Sensible Knave,” Hume Studies 18 (2) 1992, p. 401–427.
  9. K. Haakonssen, “Hume’s Obligations,” Hume Studies 4 (1) 1978, p. 7–17.
  10. J. Harris, “Hume on the Moral Obligation to Justice,” Hume Studies 36 (1) 2010, p. 25–50.
  11. D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, D.F. Norton and M.J. Norton (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2000.
  12. J. Taylor, “Justice and the Foundation of Social Morality in Hume’s Treatise,” Hume Studies 24 (1) 1998, p. 5–30.
  13. D. Wiggins, Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality, Penguin, London 2006.

DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.44.2015.766

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/766
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/766/en

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