Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility

Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility

by Paul Russell
     
 

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In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of the "compatibilist" position—that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it

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Overview

In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of the "compatibilist" position—that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments such as responsibility, and Russell argues that his conception of free will must be interpreted within this naturalistic framework. He goes on to discuss Hume's views about the nature and character of moral sentiment; the extent to which we have control over our moral character; and the justification of punishment. Throughout, Russell argues that the naturalistic avenue of interpretation of Hume's thought, far from draining it of its contemporary interest and significance, reveals it to be of great relevance to the ongoing contemporary debate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There can be little doubt that the author is absolutely correct about the importance of seeing Hume's discussion...within the context of his naturalized and 'sentimentalized' theory of moral responsibility...An important and valuable work that should be welcomed by students of Hume and by anyone interested in issues of moral freedom and moral responsibility...The overall quality of both the exposition and the critical analysis is very high indeed."—Don Garrett, New York University

"Russell's book, which is the first full analysis of Hume's theories on this key theme, does justice to their complexity and systematic character, and by relating them to more recent debates shows us, once again, why Hume remains such a continual source of philosophical stimulus. It [Russell's book] is excellent, creative scholarship."—Terry Penelhum, Canadian Journal of Philosophy

"This book is a meticulous, wide-ranging reexamination of Hume's views on liberty, necessity and moral responsibility....Russell's account imbues Hume's texts with fresh significance and interest."—Ira Singer, Ethics

"...Russell's book makes an important contribution to the literature on Hume's moral philosophy."—Donald Ainslie, Philosophical Review

"...this noteworthy and provocative book...the interpretative and philosophical gains made by Russell's readings are considerable."—Kathleen Schmidt, Hume Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195095012
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/28/1995
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.84(d)

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