Hume natural and artificial virtues

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals Summary The subject of the Enquiry is the contributions that moral sense and reason make in our moral judgments. Hume claims that moral sense makes the ultimate distinction between vice and virtue, though both moral sense and reason play a role in our formation of moral judgments.

Hume natural and artificial virtues

Additional Information In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: This distinction between the virtues gives rise to two primary problems. The first, which I shall call the traditional problem and with which Hume was primarily concernedis why the artificial virtues e.

Hume natural and artificial virtues

The second problem is more recent and is discussed by J. Mackie in his book Hume's Moral Theory. The essence of Mackie's claim is that the natural virtues are themselves ultimately artificial.

The interesting thing about these two problems is that when set side by side they are in tension. Both push toward the obliteration of the distinction between the two kinds of virtues, but they do so in different ways. The traditional problem suggests that all virtues are natural and to the extent that justice is thought not to be conformable to the natural model this is commonly used as a foil against such viewswhile Mackie's problem suggests that all virtues are artificial ethics, as Mackie might say, is a matter of invention.

Hume natural and artificial virtues

Together these problems suggest that Hume's attempt to bifurcate the moral terrain is inherently unstable. I shall argue that each of these problems rests upon a mistaken understanding of Hume's distinction between the natural and artificial virtues. When given the proper interpretation neither of these problems threatens the distinction that Hume aims to make.

Justice and similar virtues seem to be concerned with abstract rules, while virtues like compassion seem far removed from rules and more connected with feelings and emotions.

Hume's Distinction between Natural and Artificial Virtues | James Fieser - timberdesignmag.com

Since this appears to be the commonsensical view, it might be worth asking whether there is any theoretical way to account for it. Thus, if Hume's distinction can be defended it may provide the basis of a worthwhile way to divide the moral terrain.

My plan is as follows. In the third section I lay out two possible interpretations of Hume's distinction: In the fourth section I defend the motive interpretation. In the fifth and sixth sections, respectivelyI return to the traditional problem and Mackie's problem and show how the motive interpretation allows for the resolution of each of these problems.

The first part "Of Virtue and Vice in General" borrows from the arguments of II, iii, 3 to make the case against rationalism and for the moral sense.

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

In the second and third part, respectively, Hume turns to a discussion of the artificial and natural virtues. The perplexing thing is why Hume begins with the artificial virtues and devotes over twice the space to discussing them.

It would seem more natural to begin, as he does in the Enquiry, with the natural virtues.In this essay I will discuss the differences between Hume’s ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ virtues. I will first give Hume’s explanation of why there is a need for a distinction or classification of virtues, and the basis on which he makes the distinction, before describing the two categories and their criteria.

For Schneewind, artificial virtues correspond with what have historically been called perfect duties, and natural virtues correspond with imperfect duties.2 Although the distinction between natural and artificial virtues is subdued in Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (),3 the distinction is the cornerstone of his moral.

Hume regards these external goods as the main cause of conflict in a state of nature. He discusses limited generosity and scarcity of resources to show how essential artificial virtues, in particular, justice, is to maintaining order, control, and a .

SparkNotes: David Hume (–): An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

For Schneewind, artificial virtues correspond with what have historically been called perfect duties, and natural virtues correspond with imperfect duties.2 Although the distinction between natural and artificial virtues is subdued in Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (),3 the distinction is the cornerstone of his moral.

In the Treatise, Hume offers a detailed account of what he calls the artificial virtues: of justice, of fidelity to promises, and of allegiance to political authority, among others. According to virtually everyone, Hume’s discussion of these artificial virtues—and especially of the conventions on which he argues they depend—is inspired, rich, and .

Hume continues in the Treatise to suggest that the virtues of material honesty and of faithfulness to promises and contracts, both obviously necessary to hold together the conventions of what is deemed a normal society, are artificial, not natural virtues.

Hume's Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)