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Hume's Philosophy of Morality

Updated on March 27, 2020
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Jackline is a competent researcher in philosophical issues and seeks to analyze the significance of different arguments by philosophers.

Hume the Philosopher


The aspect of the inquiry encompasses the contributions made by reason and moral sense in people’s moral judgments. Hume contends that moral sense leads to the ultimate difference between virtue and vice, although both reason and moral sense have a significant role in the formation of moral judgments. The reason is essential whenever people are required to make a judgment concerning the useful things because reason alone can decide the effectiveness of something to individuals and others around them. Hume briefly discussed the components of moral judges in their virtues list, what they fail to include, and how they come up with these lists. He then comes back to the categorization of virtues, which he suggested first in the Treatise (Hume 10). Hume first differentiated between natural and artificial attributes. Counterfeit temperances depend on social structures and involve devotion and equity to guarantees, purity, faithfulness, unobtrusiveness. It also includes sovereign nations' responsibilities to maintain treaties, have boundaries and safeguard ambassadors, and be subject to the nation's law (Sayre-McCord 212). Hume also explains the meaning of these virtues and how they reveal themselves to the world, whereby he suggests that artificial attributes are different in various societies.

On the other hand, natural virtues come from nature and are universal compared to artificial virtues. They comprise generosity, beneficence, gratitude, friendship, compassion, temperance, ambition, prudence, industry, ambition, and good sense, patience, good nature, poetry sensitivity, and enthusiasm, among others (Sayre-McCord 210). Some of these virtues are intentional, such as pride, while others are done involuntarily like good sense. In the Treatise, Hume highlights that reason does not lead to people's actions, but passions and moral sentiments are what push people to act. In the inquiry, Hume states that people's actions are as a result of a combination of sentiment and utility (Hume 21). This, in more straightforward language, means that people must think about the consequences if they mind about how it was acquired. Various sections of the inquiry are dedicated to utility, the initial and most crucial among the four types of virtue, which Hume refers to virtuous since its useful. He also looks into benevolence and its functions in the process of morality. Precisely, Hume contends that acts of benevolence tend to be virtuous since they are of importance to most people.


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