Obligation and Action in Hume's Moral Psychology

JVF Conference Papers

In the following paper, I will present an interpretation of Hume's account of the motive force of "conscience, or a sense of morals;" that is, of our tendency to act because we "feel" that we ought to. I will introduce this topic with some general remarks about Humean sentimentalism. I will then focus on Hume's cognitive psychology to prepare the ground for an examination of the virtue of benevolence, the virtue which best illustrates the nature of moral motivation as Hume conceives it. After reconstructing the specifically Humean "sense" of obligation, I will draw a brief comparison between Hume's ethical views and those of Kant and Aristotle...

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