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

Overview

Russell contends that it is the workings of moral sentiment, and not the concept of freedom, that is basic to Hume's account of moral responsibility. The compatibilist strategy that Hume pursues must be interpreted in terms of his detailed description of the circumstances in which people are felt to be responsible. These naturalistic commitments are directly relevant to Hume's complex understanding of how freedom relates to responsibility. It is his view that we must not exaggerate the importance of voluntariness...
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Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility

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Overview

Russell contends that it is the workings of moral sentiment, and not the concept of freedom, that is basic to Hume's account of moral responsibility. The compatibilist strategy that Hume pursues must be interpreted in terms of his detailed description of the circumstances in which people are felt to be responsible. These naturalistic commitments are directly relevant to Hume's complex understanding of how freedom relates to responsibility. It is his view that we must not exaggerate the importance of voluntariness and control for moral responsibility. Hume's naturalism is also essential to his account of the relationship between responsibility and religion. Issues of moral responsibility, Hume maintains, can be understood only within the fabric of human feeling and human society. This perspective on responsibility is central to the philosopher's most basic objective: to secularize our understanding of moral life and practice. The classical reading entirely overlooks Hume's naturalistic concerns and commitments. As Russell demonstrates, however, it is this very aspect that is fundamental to Hume's general strategy and that is of particular significance from a contemporary perspective. The contemporary relevance of Hume's naturalistic approach is examined with P. F. Strawson's influential contribution on this subject especially in view. Freedom and Moral Sentiment addresses issues of wide interest to students and scholars of philosophy, theology, legal theory, and the history of ideas.
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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195152906
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2002
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction 3
1 Logic, "Liberty", and the Metaphysics of Responsibility 11
2 Minding the Matter of Necessity: A Paradox Regarding Causation 24
3 Causation, Compulsion, and Compatibilism 43
4 The Naturalism of Hume's "Reconciling Project" 58
5 Hume's Naturalism and Strawson's Reconciling Project 71
6 The Content and Objects of Moral Sentiment 87
7 Action, Character, and Excuses 95
8 Will, Intention, Feeling: The Indications of Character 110
9 The Involuntary Nature of Moral Character 124
10 Retributive Feeling and the Utility of Punishment 137
11 Pride, Fortune, and the Godless Man 154
12 Responsibility Naturalized: A Qualified Defence of Hume 170
Bibliography 187
Index 193
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