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Hume's Morality: Feeling and Fabrication

Overview

Rachel Cohon offers an original interpretation of the moral philosophy of David Hume, focusing on two areas. Firstly, his metaethics. Cohon reinterprets Hume's claim that moral distinctions are not derived from reason and explains why he makes it. She finds that Hume did not actually hold three 'Humean' claims: 1) that beliefs alone cannot move us to act, 2) that evaluative propositions cannot be validly inferred from purely factual propositions, or 3) that moral judgments lack truth value. According to Hume, ...
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Hume's Morality: Feeling and Fabrication

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Overview

Rachel Cohon offers an original interpretation of the moral philosophy of David Hume, focusing on two areas. Firstly, his metaethics. Cohon reinterprets Hume's claim that moral distinctions are not derived from reason and explains why he makes it. She finds that Hume did not actually hold three 'Humean' claims: 1) that beliefs alone cannot move us to act, 2) that evaluative propositions cannot be validly inferred from purely factual propositions, or 3) that moral judgments lack truth value. According to Hume, human beings discern moral virtues and vices by means of feeling or emotion in a way rather like sensing; but this also gives the moral judge a truth-apt idea of a virtue or vice as a felt property. Secondly, Cohon examines the artificial virtues. Hume says that although many virtues are refinements of natural human tendencies, others (such as honesty) are constructed by social convention to make cooperation possible; and some of these generate paradoxes. She argues that Hume sees these traits as prosthetic virtues that compensate for deficiencies in human nature. However, their true status clashes with our common-sense conception of a virtue, and so has been concealed, giving rise to the paradoxes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199594979
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Cohon is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the editor of Hume: Moral and Political Philosophy (Dartmouth/Ashgate, 2001) and author of a number of articles about Hume's moral philosophy and about the relation of between morality and reasons, including "Hume on Promises and the Peculiar Act of the Mind," (Journal of the History of Philosophy, 2006) and "The Roots of Reasons" (Philosophical Review, 2000).

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Table of Contents

Introduction

I Feeling Virtue

1 Our Common Reading of Hume's Metaethics

2 The Causes of Motivating Passions

3 Reason Alone and Moral Discrimination

4 Feeling Virtue and the Reality of Moral Distinctions

5 The Common Point of View

II Fabricating Virtue

6 The Difficulty with the Virtue of Honesty

7 Fidelity to Promises and the Peculiar Act of the Mind

8 The Shackles of Virtue: Allegiance to Government

9 Criticizing Hume's List of Virtues and Vices

Bibliography

Index

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