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Philosophy E166: Ethical Theory

Philosophy E166: Ethical Theory

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Philosophy E166: Ethical Theory

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  1. Philosophy E166: Ethical Theory Spring 2013, Week Ten: Hume on Virtue, Utility and Justice

  2. Beginnings of Hume’s Naturalistic Account of Morality • Rawls’ phrase for Hume’s view: “Fideism of nature” • Hume’s conclusions about reason & passion • Reason cannot be a motive of the will • Reason cannot oppose passion in directing the will • The moral problem • Moral opinions practical, insofar as motivating action • Moral opinions belief-like, to be argued for or against • For Hume there is nothing like that filling both roles

  3. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality

  4. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality • Hume’s approach “naturalistic”

  5. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality • Hume’s approach “naturalistic” • Hume’s view is a “moral sense” view

  6. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality • Hume’s approach “naturalistic” • Hume’s view is a “moral sense” view – that means that morality is somehow grounded on moral sentiments or moral passions

  7. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality • Hume’s approach “naturalistic” • Hume’s view is a “moral sense” view – that means that morality is somehow grounded on moral sentiments or moral passions • So it should be obvious now what the relevance is to our discussion of reason and passion

  8. Hume’s Substantive Views on the Nature of Morality • Hume’s approach “naturalistic” • Hume’s view is a “moral sense” view – that means that morality is somehow grounded on moral sentiments or moral passions • So it should be obvious now what the relevance is to our discussion of reason and passion – it’s that just as reason is the slave of the passions, similarly reason is the slave of the moral passions

  9. Reason the Slave of the Passions

  10. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions

  11. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow

  12. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow • The ends are dictated by the ways we respond through our passions to the world around

  13. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow • The ends are dictated by the ways we respond through our passions to the world around • and that is the result of our constitutions

  14. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow • The ends are dictated by the ways we respond through our passions to the world around • and that is the result of our constitutions • we cannot with our reason change our constitution

  15. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow • The ends are dictated by the ways we respond through our passions to the world around • and that is the result of our constitutions • we cannot with our reason change our constitution • we can and will develop character over time, he says

  16. Reason the Slave of the Passions • Reason cannot cause us to have passions, except insofar as it might lead us to judgments that cause passions • But very importantly, it cannot, for Hume, dictate the ends we should follow • The ends are dictated by the ways we respond through our passions to the world around • and that is the result of our constitutions • we cannot with our reason change our constitution • we can and will develop character over time, he says • but not through reason

  17. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue

  18. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue

  19. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue • There is something unnatural, given Hume’s conception of naturalistic psychology, about Hume’s use of the word “natural” here

  20. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue • There is something unnatural, given Hume’s conception of naturalistic psychology, about Hume’s use of the word “natural” here • After all, Hume embraces “naturalism”

  21. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue • There is something unnatural, given Hume’s conception of naturalistic psychology, about Hume’s use of the word “natural” here • After all, Hume embraces “naturalism” • What other philosophers explain on the basis of supernatural Platonic forms, or divine commands, or abstract properties, &c, Hume explains naturalistically

  22. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue • There is something unnatural, given Hume’s conception of naturalistic psychology, about Hume’s use of the word “natural” here • After all, Hume embraces “naturalism” • What other philosophers explain on the basis of supernatural Platonic forms, or divine commands, or abstract properties, &c, Hume explains naturalistically • Hume assumes that all features of the world that exist are parts of the natural world and are to be explained as the result of the machinery of nature

  23. Morality Consists of “Natural” Virtue and “Artificial” Virtue • Hume divides “natural” from “artificial” virtue • There is something unnatural, given Hume’s conception of naturalistic psychology, about Hume’s use of the word “natural” here • After all, Hume embraces “naturalism” • What other philosophers explain on the basis of supernatural Platonic forms, or divine commands, or abstract properties, &c, Hume explains naturalistically • Hume assumes that all features of the world that exist are parts of the natural world and are to be explained as the result of the machinery of nature • What then is “artificial”?

  24. Hume Acknowledges the Problem and Solves It • Treatise III.1.2.7: “But in the second place, should it be ask’d, Whether we ought to search for these principles in nature, or whether we must look for them in some other origin? I wou’d reply, that our answer to this question depends upon the definition of the word, Nature, than which there is none more ambiguous and equivocal. If nature be oppos’d to miracles, not only the distinction betwixt vice and virtue is natural, but also every event, which has ever happen’d in the world, excepting those miracles, on which our religion is founded. In saying, then, that the sentiments of vice and virtue are natural in this sense, we make no very extraordinary discovery….”

  25. The Three Meanings of “Nature” • Treatise III.1.2.8:But nature may also be opposed to rare and unusual; and in this sense of the word, which is the common one, there may often arise disputes concerning what is natural or unnatural; and one may in general affirm, that we are not possess’d of any very precise standard, by which these disputes can be decided…. But nature may also be opposed to artifice, as well as to what is rare and unusual; and in this sense it may be disputed, whether the notions of virtue be natural or not. We readily forget, that the designs, and projects, and views of men are principles as necessary in their operation as heat and cold, moist and dry: But taking them to be free and entirely our own, ’tis usual for us to set them in opposition to the other principles of nature.”

  26. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important

  27. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made

  28. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes

  29. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes • Hume has little to say about how “natural virtue” is made

  30. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes • Hume has little to say about how “natural virtue” is made • In fact, it’s very mysterious for him

  31. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes • Hume has little to say about how “natural virtue” is made • In fact, it’s very mysterious for him • It’s enough for him that it’s not human-made

  32. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes • Hume has little to say about how “natural virtue” is made • In fact, it’s very mysterious for him • It’s enough for him that it’s not human-made • Another complication: It will turn out the justice is an “artificial” virtue

  33. It’s the Third Meaning That’s Important • Thus Hume is able to distinguish “natural” from “artificial,” where by “artificial” we mean human-made • The opposite, then, is non-human-made, and that means, for our purposes, made without design, made by blind processes • Hume has little to say about how “natural virtue” is made • In fact, it’s very mysterious for him • It’s enough for him that it’s not human-made • Another complication: It will turn out the justice is an “artificial” virtue • But even though he’ll suggest that there is a way that it is human-made, it’s still not designed, not in the way the automobile was, not in the way Hobbes & Locke thought

  34. What the “Natural” Virtues Are Like

  35. What the “Natural” Virtues Are Like • The natural virtues are connected to natural instincts, natural dispositions, the natural development of character

  36. What the “Natural” Virtues Are Like • The natural virtues are connected to natural instincts, natural dispositions, the natural development of character • The natural virtues existed in humans before civilization

  37. What the “Natural” Virtues Are Like • The natural virtues are connected to natural instincts, natural dispositions, the natural development of character • The natural virtues existed in humans before civilization • Examples are those connected with the so-called “calm desires and tendencies”:

  38. What the “Natural” Virtues Are Like • The natural virtues are connected to natural instincts, natural dispositions, the natural development of character • The natural virtues existed in humans before civilization • Examples are those connected with the so-called “calm desires and tendencies”: • “either certain instincts originally implanted in our natures, such as benevolence and resentment, the love of life, and kindness to children; or the general appetite to good, and aversion to evil, considered merely as such” (II.iii.3.8)

  39. The Question: Is Justice Something Else?

  40. The Question: Is Justice Something Else? • Hume’s question about justice, then, is the question of whether it is like these natural dispositions – instinctual, prior to civilization, implanted from the start in our natures – or not

  41. The Question: Is Justice Something Else? • Hume’s question about justice, then, is the question of whether it is like these natural dispositions – instinctual, prior to civilization, implanted from the start in our natures – or not • If not, Hume’s idea is that it’s “artificial” – human-made

  42. The Argument for “Artificial” Virtue

  43. The Argument for “Artificial” Virtue • The argument, as I see it, has two parts:

  44. The Argument for “Artificial” Virtue • The argument, as I see it, has two parts: • The first part is to argue, as he does at Treatise III.2.1.10 and following, that justice cannot be directly accounted for on the basis of natural dispositions

  45. The Argument for “Artificial” Virtue • The argument, as I see it, has two parts: • The first part is to argue, as he does at Treatise III.2.1.10 and following, that justice cannot be directly accounted for on the basis of natural dispositions • And then he argues that it can be accounted for as the result of human-made conventions

  46. The Argument for “Artificial” Virtue • The argument, as I see it, has two parts: • The first part is to argue, as he does at Treatise III.2.1.10 and following, that justice cannot be directly accounted for on the basis of natural dispositions • And then he argues that it can be accounted for as the result of human-made conventions • Thus, the argument seems to be an inference to the best explanation – the explanation from convention works to explain justice, and it works best

  47. Recall the argument against natural dispositions…. • At Treatise III.2.1.9, he sets out a problem: “I suppose a person to have lent me a sum of money, on condition that it be restored in a few days; and also suppose, that after the expiration of the term agreed on, he demands the sum: I ask, What reason or motive have I to restore the money? It will, perhaps, be said, that my regard to justice, and abhorrence of villainy and knavery, are sufficient reasons for me, if I have the least grain of honesty, or sense of duty and obligation. And this answer, no doubt, is just and satisfactory to man in his civilized state, and when trained up according to a certain discipline and education. But in his rude and more natural condition, if you are pleased to call such a condition natural, this answer would be rejected as perfectly unintelligible and sophistical. For one in that situation would immediately ask you, Wherein consists this honesty and justice, which you find in restoring a loan, and abstaining from the property of others?”

  48. Answers He Thinks Won’t Work

  49. Answers He Thinks Won’t Work • He says that in humans’ “rude and more natural condition” it won’t do to answer the answer that we have reason to restore the loan based on justice