Hume natural and artificial virtues

Hume's Moral Philosophy

The spectator is the person who approves or disapproves of the action. Edinburgh University Press; 2nd edition, revised, Sentiments are not subject to such voluntary control.

In that case, what could we mean by the utterances we use to make them, and what would be the origin of our obligation to fulfill them?

The traits he calls artificial virtues are the ones we need for successful impersonal cooperation; our natural sentiments are too partial to give rise to these without intervention. But when we consider violations by others, we partake by sympathy in the uneasiness these violations cause to their victims and all of society.

More generally, the motivating passions of desire and aversion, hope and fear, joy and grief, and a few others are impressions produced by the occurrence in the mind either of a feeling of pleasure or pain, whether physical or psychological, or of a believed idea of pleasure or pain to come T 2.

According to his own theory, our duty to obey our governors is not reducible to an instance of our duty to fulfill promises, but arises separately though in a way parallel to the genesis of that duty. When an individual within such a small Hume natural and artificial virtues violates this rule, the others are aware of it and exclude the offender from their cooperative activities.

Therefore all actions deemed virtuous derive their goodness only from virtuous motives — motives we approve. Remember virtue in rags. As Hume himself pointed out, self-interested motivation will not get me to comply with the rules of justice.

They are not passions in the agent, or the spectator. Hume explains that ideas of reason can excite a passion "by informing us of the existence of something which is a proper object of it [i. Hume famously sets himself in opposition to most moral philosophers, ancient and modern, who talk of the combat of passion and reason, and who urge human beings to regulate their actions by reason and to grant it dominion over their contrary passions.

Given that the distinction is arguably a logical consequence rather than cause of his theories of psychology and ethics, it would seem that Hume is indeed properly justified in making it.

Sympathy also explains our approval of the artificial virtues; the difference is that we approve of those as a result of sympathy with the cumulative effects produced by the general practice of the artificial virtues on the whole of society individual acts of justice not always producing pleasure for anyone ; whereas we approve each individual exercise of such natural virtues as gratitude and friendship because we sympathize with those who are affected by each such action when we consider it from the common point of view.

Perhaps more directly, they stand to lose their favored status if they are found by the people not to enforce the rules of justice. He does not insist that the value of our behavior or our character is measured only by the value of their effects.

However, the sympathetic transmission of sentiments can vary in effectiveness depending upon the degree of resemblance and contiguity between the observer and the person with whom he sympathizes. While even so law-oriented a thinker as Hobbes has a good deal to say about virtue, the ethical writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries predominantly favor a rule- or law-governed understanding of morals, giving priority to laws of nature or principles of duty.

Often grouped with the latter view is the third, dispositional interpretation, which understands moral evaluations as factual judgments to the effect that the evaluated trait or action is so constituted as to cause feelings of approval or disapproval in a suitably characterized spectator Mackie, in one of his proposals.

Hume does not explicitly draw a distinction between artificial and natural virtues in the moral Enquiry. References to this work start with EPM and are followed by Part, Section if anyand paragraph number, in parentheses within the text.

Botros, Sophie,Hume, Reason and Morality: His thesis is that reason alone cannot move us to action; the impulse to act itself must come from passion.

The basis of our approval could not be specified. An impression first strikes upon the senses, and makes us perceive heat or cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure or pain, of some kind or other.

Artificial Virtues

It is possible that Hume only means to say, in the premise that reason alone cannot influence action, that reasoning processes cannot generate actions as their logical conclusions; but that would introduce an equivocation, since he surely does not mean to say, in the other premise, that moral evaluations generate actions as their logical conclusions.In this essay I will discuss the differences between Hume’s ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ virtues.

I will first give Hume’s explanation of why there is a need for a distinction or classification of virtues, and the basis on which he makes the distinction, before describing the two categories and their criteria.

In David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, he divides the virtues of human beings into two types: natural and artificial. He argues that laws are artificial and a human invention. Therefore, he makes the point that justice is an artificial virtue instead of a natural virtue.

In the Treatise, Hume offers a detailed account of what he calls the artificial virtues: of justice, of fidelity to promises, and of allegiance to political authority, among others.

According to virtually everyone, Hume’s discussion of these artificial virtues—and especially of the conventions on which he argues they depend—is inspired, rich, and.

Hume first distinguishes between artificial and natural virtues. Artificial virtues depend on social structures and include justice and fidelity to promises; allegiance; chastity and modesty; and duties of sovereign states to keep treaties, to respect boundaries, to protect ambassadors, and to otherwise subject themselves to the law of nations.

For Schneewind, artificial virtues correspond with what have historically been called perfect duties, and natural virtues correspond with imperfect duties.2 Although the distinction between natural and artificial virtues is subdued in Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (),3 the distinction is the cornerstone of his moral.

Hume Studies Volume XX, Number 1, Aprilpp. Hume's Distinction between the Natural and Artificial Virtues KEN O'DAY In A Treatise of Human Nature Hume divides his discussion of the virtues into two types: natural and artificial.

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