Hume: moral and political philosophy

Hume: moral and political philosophy
Hume: moral and political philosophy Rosalind Hursthouse INTRODUCTION Hume’s moral and political philosophy, like his epistemology and meta-physics, originally appeared in A Treatise of Human Nature, (henceforth [7.1]), Book III of which, ‘Of Morals’, was published in 1740. He developed and recast it in a number of essays and dissertations published between 1741 and 1757, (collected together in Hume [7.3]) and in Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (henceforth [7.2]), published in 1751. His moral philosophy borrows much from Hutcheson, and his political philosophy at least some from Hobbes and Mandeville.1 His blending of these disparate elements is entirely his own, as is the Treatise attack on the role of reason in morals. The attack may be seen as a continuation of the scepticism of Book I (see chapter 6 of this volume) or even, despite the order of the Books, as having inspired it.2 Or it may be played down. There is much debate amongst commentators about the extent to which the attack is mitigated in later stages of the Book III of the Treatise, and over whether it has been abandoned by the Enquiry, or retained in all essentials. Hence Hume has been interpreted as anything from a complete moral sceptic to at least as much of a moral realist as Aristotle. But its presence in the relevant sections of Book II and early sections of Book III is unmistakable, where it is heralded with the battle cry ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’ ([7.1] 415). Hume has reached this conclusion by a number of arguments, regarded by some commentators as conclusive, and by others as ‘dreadful’. REASON AND PASSION Passions, according to Hume, following Locke, are ‘secondary impressions’ ([7.1], 275), or impressions of reflexion ([7.1], 8, 275). We might expect that qua impressions, they are all unmistakable ([7.1], 190) and possess, ‘force and liveliness’ ([7.1], i); but this turns out not to be so (see below ‘Moral Sentiments’). Qua secondary, they proceed from antecedent impressions or ideas, and ‘mostly from ideas’ ([7.1], 8). Once again following Locke, Hume takes it that all the familiar passions—love, hatred, joy, fear, anger, pride— arise directly or indirectly from the ideas (or impressions) of good or evil, which (unlike Locke), he does not bother to distinguish from the ideas or impressions of pleasure or pain, (Treatise, p. 276). Reason, or the understanding, operates with ideas, all of which are ‘copy’d from our impressions’ ([7.1], 72); it can never give rise to any new idea ([7.1], 164); reasoning is either demonstrative, concerned with abstract relations between ideas, or probable, concerned with matters of fact, i.e. with causes and effects. This, in brief is the philosophical psychology that grounds Hume’s attack on the role of reason in morals.3 The historical setting of the attack is as follows. Hutcheson, without attempting to deny that reason is an essential determinant of correct moral approbation, had argued against the rationalists’ claim that it was the sole determinant.4 For Hutcheson, reason is essential for the very reason that Hume gives in the Enquiry ([7.2], 285); it is that faculty which enables us to judge, contrary to false appearances, the truly beneficial or pernicious tendencies of actions and qualities (character traits) to society. Hutcheson’s point is that such reasoning would not motivate any creature which lacked our ‘moral sense’, namely our natural tendency to approve of benevolence, to discern ‘beauty’ in benevolent actions, or would motivate them differently. But Hutcheson’s claim that practical reasoning (reasoning that leads to action) must operate with the ideas of good and evil antecedently provided by our instincts, affections and moral sense is transmuted by Hume in the Treatise into the curious claim that reasoning, even about the probable outcome of action, cannot give rise to any action at all. He begins by attempting to show ‘first, that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will’ ([7.1], 413) (or produce any action, passion or volition, since he takes all these as equivalent in this context). Demonstrative reasoning alone is easily dismissed. Clearly it is never the cause of any action, since it is concerned with ‘abstract relations’, with ‘the world of ideas’ (ibid.), but the will is concerned with realities (ibid.). He then considers ‘the second operation of the understanding’ ([7.1], 414). ‘When we have the prospect of pain or pleasure from any object, we feel a consequent emotion or aversion or propensity’; we then cast around looking for ways to avoid or attain the object, i.e. for what action(s) will have these effects. This is (probable) reasoning and ‘according as our reasoning varies, our actions receive a subsequent variation. But ’tis evident that the impulse arises not from reason, but is only directed by it’ (ibid.). As many commentators have noted, this argument, as it stands, is very weak.5 He describes the cases in which ‘an aversion or propensity’ is already present, and then some reasoning takes place. Naturally, those passions or impulses do not arise from that reasoning which follows them. But this does nothing to show that they may not have arisen from some prior reasoning. Indeed, he seems committed to saying that they have. It is ‘the prospect of pain or pleasure from some object’ which has given rise to the passion or impulse in question, and this surely must, according to Hume, be the belief that the object will or would cause me pleasure or pain if ‘embraced’ or unless ‘avoided’. And what is such a belief but the outcome of probable reasoning concerning causes and effects? Taking himself to have established that reason ‘alone’ cannot produce any action (or volition or passion), Hume argues ‘secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of the will’ ([7.1,] 413). ‘Nothing’ he says, ‘can oppose or retard the impulse of passion but a contrary impulse’ ([7.1], 415). So, if reason could oppose a passion, it would have to do so by producing such a contrary impulse. But he has just shown (supposedly) that it cannot do this (alone). So it cannot oppose a passion. He is fully aware that there are cases which we describe in terms of reason opposing passion, and indeed, winning out; for example when my passionate impulse to hit someone is conquered by the consideration that he is much stronger than I am, or that he is my old father and it would be wrong. Following Hutcheson6 he claims that when we do so ‘we speak not strictly and philosophically’. ([7.1], 415, cf. [7.1], 437–8). In truth, what happens in such a case is that a ‘calm passion’ determines the agent’s will ([7.1], 417). But in order to oppose a violent passion, a calm passion must be actually present, having been ‘excited’; and belief, Hume allows, ‘is a requisite circumstance to the exciting of all our passions, the calm as well as the violent’ ([7.1], 427). Hutcheson, with no axe to grind about the slavishness of reason, is happy to say that ‘calm desires’ are the product of ‘Reason or Reflection’. Of course, such reason employs, or reflects on, ideas of good and evil which are derived from our instincts, affections or moral sense, but it is no less reasoning for that. But Hume gives no account here of what excites the calm passions. To make what Hume says in these two arguments plausible, we must assume that, unlike Hutcheson, he is using ‘reason’ in such a way as to exclude its operating with the ideas of good (pleasure) or evil (pain). That falling in the fire will cause me to feel great pain/evil is not, as we might have supposed, a conclusion of ‘reasoning’ concerning causes and effects.7 His further argument against reason (used at both [7.1], 415 and 458) is also close to one of Hutcheson’s and directed against the same targets. The rationalists are taken to maintain that, in some sense, vicious actions (or the desire to do them), are an attempt ‘to make (or will) things (to) be what they are not and cannot be’, which is as contrary to reason as ‘to pretend to alter the certain proportions of numbers’ (Clarke) or that such actions declare that what is not so, is so (Wollaston).8 Against this, Hume argues that a passion is an ‘original existence’ or ‘fact’; as such ‘it contains not any representative quality’. Hence it cannot be a true or false representation. But ‘(r)eason is the discovery of truth or falsehood’ ([7.1], 458); so a passion cannot be ‘contradictory to (…) reason’, neither ‘contrary (n)or conformable to reason.’ His three examples ([7.1], 416)—that it is ‘not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger’, to choose my total ruin to prevent the least uneasiness of a stranger, and to prefer, ‘even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater’—all run counter to variations of the principle that the greater good/lesser evil is to be preferred to the lesser good/greater evil, which Clarke regards as being akin to a mathematical axiom, discoverable by pure reason. But it has little bearing on what is supposed to be at issue, namely on whether reason can do anything but ‘serve and obey’ the passions, and indeed Hume immediately goes on to admit that, in two cases, ‘our passions yield to our reason without any opposition’ ([7.1], One case is unproblematic. (I may desire to do certain actions, supposing them to be the means to some desired good; if reason informs me that this supposition is false, the first desires (passions) will immediately cease ([7.1], 416–17). The second is not. Reason ‘excites a passion by informing us of the existence of something which is a proper object of it’ ([7.1], 459, my italics), i.e. something with a tendency to produce (as he says) pain or pleasure or (as he does not say here, but to be consistent, should) good or evil. Reason may subsequently discover that this supposition, of the existence of a proper object, is false, whereupon, once again, the passion yields. In this case, as in the former, ‘No one can ever regard such errors as a defect in my moral character’. ([7.1], 460). But this is a muddle. Reason, taking this to exclude any employment of the ideas of pleasure (good) or pain (evil), cannot excite any passion—this was the claim of the first argument. Taking it to include employment of such ideas of course it can—but then false suppositions about the tendencies of ‘objects’, or actions to produce good or evil, particularly long term good or evil, may well turn out to be ‘the sources of all immorality’—as indeed Hutcheson seems to suppose but which Hume here denies ([7.1], 460). The point of the lengthy discussion of the subservience of reason to passion in general has been to provide the ground for claiming, in Book III, that ‘moral distinctions are not deriv’d from reason’ ([7.1], 455) but from sentiments (a form of calm passions), so that ‘(m)orality is more properly felt than judg’d of’ ([7.1], 47o).9 Quite simply, ‘morals have an influence’ on our passions (and actions), and ‘it follows, that they cannot be deriv’d from reason; and that because reason alone, as we have already prov’d, can never have any such influence’ ([7.1], 457). As has just been noted, ‘reason alone’ here has to be taken as meaning ‘reason excluding any employment of the ideas of good or evil’, and it was perhaps the extraordinary difficulty of making it mean that which lead Hume to some of the major changes in the Enquiry. Nothing is said there about what can, or cannot produce passions and the subservience claim has been dropped in favour of Hutcheson’s view that reason must enter for a ‘considerable share’ in moral decisions ([7.2], 285). The Treatise also contains a passage that is almost invariably quoted, the ‘is/ought’ passage ([7.1], 469–70), where Hume observes that in all ‘systems of morality’ he has met with, the authors begin with various is- and is not- statements, and then ‘of a sudden’, produce statements whose copula is ought or ought not. ‘(T)his ought, or ought not’, he says, ‘expresses some new relation or affirmation‘ which needs to be explained, but ‘the authors commonly do not use this precaution.’ Hume may be taken to be implying that no such explanation can be forthcoming; then the passage is interpreted as the claim ‘No “ought” from an “is”’ and described as ‘Hume’s Law’. Alternatively, he may be interpreted as saying no more than that the authors in question (assumed to be the rationalists, who produce ‘speculative systems’ of morality) have not explained it, implying that an explanation in terms of human nature, such as he and Hutcheson give, can be given. Whichever interpretation is favoured, it must be acknowledged that the Enquiry does not contain any parallel passage. However, some aspects of the Treatise position linger on. In both the Treatise and the Enquiry we are invited to consider an action agreed to be vicious (wilful murder in the Treatise ([7.1], 468), an act of ingratitude in the Enquiry, ([7.2], 287) and challenged to find that matter of fact wherein its vice or criminality lies. In both cases, it is taken as obvious that we cannot do so. But since, in both cases, we can obviously find a motive indicative of a character which, far from being useful or agreeable to its possessor or to others, has the contrary tendency, finding this cannot count as finding the sort of thing that ‘reason’ judges of—a matter of fact. So ‘reason’ here has to be Treatise reason: not the faculty which, according to Hutcheson and the Enquiry ‘points out’ the beneficial or harmful tendencies of personal qualities.10 MORAL SENTIMENTS Having argued that ‘moral distinctions are not deriv’d from reason’, Hume claims that we ‘mark the difference’ between virtue and vice on the basis of a ‘feeling or sentiment’. These are sometimes described as feelings of ‘satisfaction or uneasiness’ ([7.1], 471), sometimes as ‘sentiments of approbation (or praise) or disapprobation (or blame)’ ([7.1], 469), sometimes simply as ‘sentiments of pleasure or pain’ ([7.1], 472). Avowedly ‘subjectivist’ accounts of moral judgements are faced with two standard problems. Firstly, if ‘x is virtuous’ just means (something like) ‘I like x’, and I like wine, why do I not say that wine is virtuous? And secondly, why am I charged with inconsistency or hypocrisy when I say that the truthfulness of my enemy, which prompts her to tell the truth about me or my friends, is vicious, but that our truthfulness is virtuous, if all I mean is that I dislike the former and enjoy the latter? Moral judgements have features which remarks of psychological autobiography lack. Hume is sensible of these two features of moral judgement, though characteristically he treats them as psychological features of ‘that peculiar kind (of feeling), which makes us praise or condemn’ ([7.1], 472, cf. 517 and [7.2], §222). The sensations of pleasure we get from wine or music resemble each other just sufficiently to ‘be express’d by the same abstract term’ ([7.1], 472), but we can all recognize that they are very different. Similarly, the pleasure we get from the contemplation of character and actions is simply different from any of the others, so different that we never ‘confound’ them, that is, mistake one of the others for it ([7.1], 472, cf. [7.2], 213 n.1).11 Just as the moral sentiments are caused by characters and actions, never by music and wine, so they are caused ‘only when a character (or action) is considered in general, without reference to our particular interest’ never when the character or action is not so considered ([7.1], 472, cf. [7.2], §222–3). However, in this case Hume admits that the sentiments can be ‘confounded’. The good qualities of my enemy may well give rise to a feeling of antipathy in me, despite the fact that the very same character traits in a person unconnected to me give rise to a feeling of pleasure, and I pronounce them virtuous. But if I think my enemy vicious, on account of my feeling of antipathy, this is because I am under an illusion, the illusion that the sentiment I have in contemplating the qualities of my enemy is indeed the moral sentiment, rather than one of the others.12 But, though readily mistaken for non-moral sentiments, the moral sentiments are ‘in themselves, distinct’ and “a man of temper and judgement may preserve himself from these illusions’ ([7.1], 472). How he does so is not entirely clear. To preserve myself from confounding a nonmoral with a moral sentiment I place myself in ‘a general point of view’ and see what sentiment I have then. ‘Experience soon teaches us this method of correcting our sentiments’ ([7.1], 582) says Hume. However, it seems that this does not always work; the sentiment of aversion I feel towards the good qualities of my enemy may prove ‘stubborn and inalterable’ ([7.1], 582); for, in general ‘the heart does not always take part with those general notions, or regulate its love and hatred by them’ ([7.1], 603). What then? Well then we ‘correct(…) our language’ ([7.1], 582). This may look like a move Hume should not allow himself to make, for what is the language in question, employing the epithets ‘virtuous’ and Vicious’, supposed to be about but the speaker’s sentiments? Hume’s answer to this is that, although I cannot love a remote historical character as much as I do someone present, I can know that I would feel much more strongly in favour of the former if he and the latter were both before me, and on that account I say the former is more virtuous (ibid.). So if, despite our rebellious sentiments, we ‘correct our language’ and pronounce the hurtful good qualities of our enemies to be virtues, ‘the meaning of this is that ‘we know from reflexion’ that they ‘would excite strong sentiments’ of pleasure if we found them in someone who was not an enemy (paraphrasing ([7.1], 584). And these sentiments would be the genuinely moral ones; the ones that are caused only when a character is considered ‘without reference to our particular interest’.13 This is indeed an answer to the question ‘what is the language in which we employ such terms as “virtuous” about?’ but it is hardly consistent with his other oft-repeated claims that it is about those sentiments I find, at the time, in my own breast. Those ‘peculiar’ sentiments which make us praise or condemn are not always present when we do; it is not only when we feel them that we pronounce things to be virtuous; when, pronouncing wilful murder to be vicious, I look into my own breast, I may find all sorts of sentiments, but not necessarily the appropriate one, the moral sentiment of disapprobation. And this, although it does not entirely undercut the claim that morality is ‘founded’, ultimately, on sentiment as opposed to reason, does undercut his claim about the practical nature of morality, that it impels us to action ([7.1], 457). Hume devotes far too little attention to the question of how people become wicked, and what their beliefs, desires and passions are.14 Do the callous and ungrateful believe that they are really kind (but firm and not unduly indulgent of deserved misfortune) and grateful (when gratitude is really called for)? Or do they believe they are callous and ungrateful and not care? If so, do they not care because they believe these qualities are virtues not vices, or do they believe that they are vices, and the corresponding actions vicious, and still not care? Hume never expresses any views on these questions. But the overwhelmingly natural way to read him is as committed to the standard view that the latter, at least, is impossible. To pronounce (sincerely) that my killing my father is vicious is, ipso facto, to feel a strong aversion to killing him; this is precisely the sense in which morals have an influence on actions. But for morals to have this influence, the feeling must be present. If I can pronounce any possible action of mine to be vicious, not on account of what I actually feel about it, but on account of what I would feel about the same action if I saw someone else doing it, or indeed, if someone tried to do it to me, then the connection with impulses to action is lost. The ‘fact’ that I would feel an antipathetic sentiment if I saw someone else killing their father is, even if not a ‘matter of fact’ in Hume’s restricted use of the phrase, certainly not a passion, and hence cannot explain what opposes my desire to kill my own when I hate him as my enemy. So Hume copes with two of the standard objections to ‘subjectivist’ accounts of moral judgements only at some considerable cost. Further standard objections arise in the context of moral scepticism. SCEPTICISM AND SELF-LOVE Hume has been described as a ‘moral sceptic’, both in his own day and in ours. He himself denied that he was one. It is sometimes supposed that he did so only to avoid strife, and with a view to getting academic posts. It is more plausible to assume that ‘moral scepticism’ or ‘the denial of the reality of moral distinctions’ can be taken in a variety of ways, and that, in at least some ways of taking it, Hume was sincere when he claimed not to be a moral sceptic. Amongst the writers described as moral sceptics by Shaftesbury15 and Hutcheson were Hobbes, Locke and Mandeville, on the grounds that they all maintained that our sole passion or sentiment is that of self-love, or a concern for our private interest. It appears that there were two distinct ways in which such a claim about human nature was thought to amount to the denial of the ‘reality’ of moral distinctions and thereby to moral scepticism. First, the moral distinctions we draw between actions are, strictly speaking, distinctions between the motives of those actions. But if there is only ever one motive, namely selflove, there are no such distinctions to be made; hence no real moral distinctions. Second, no philosopher who has embraced ‘the selfish hypothesis’ denies that, somehow, human beings are brought to distinguish between their own private interest and that of others, and, at least sometimes, to pursue the latter rather than the former. Given that this is contrary to (their) nature, it must be, in some sense, a convention, or artifice. But if moral distinctions arise from convention rather than nature, they are not real; hence, on ‘the selfish hypothesis’ they are not real. Hume has little to say about self-love in the Treatise and makes little explicit attempt to dissociate himself from ‘moral scepticism’ except with regard to justice. Perhaps he did not expect to be charged with moral scepticism, since, after all, he concurred ‘with all the ancient Moralists, as well as with Mr. Hutcheson, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow’.16 However he is quite explicit about the rejection of moral scepticism in the Enquiry, maintaining at the very outset that ‘those who have denied the reality of moral distinctions, may be ranked among the disingenuous disputants’ ([7.2], 169) and producing much new material, not to be found in the Treatise, directed against ‘the selfish hypothesis’ ([7.2], 298). In part V he explicitly identifies this as a view of sceptics, who suppose, he says ‘that all moral distinctions arise from education, and were, at first, invented,…by the art of politicians’ ([7.2], 214, my italics) and in §175, he cites a number of ‘instances’, or experiments which compel us to renounce it ([7.2], 219). He returns to the attack in the Enquiry’s second Appendix ‘Of Self-Love’, where he names Hobbes and Locke as amongst those who maintain ‘the selfish system of morals’ ([7.2], 296) and produces several more arguments against it. So if by a ‘moral sceptic’ we mean—as Shaftesbury and Hutcheson certainly meant— ‘one who embraces “the selfish hypothesis” and is thereby committed to saying that no two actions have different motives and that moral distinctions are not natural but invented or matters of mere convention’, then Hume was not a moral sceptic, and was not being disingenuous when he repudiated the charge. SCEPTICISM AND SUBJECTIVITY: THE STANDARD OF ‘TASTE’ However, it may well be that there are tendencies to another sort of moral scepticism in Hume. Like Hutcheson, he compares virtue and vice to ‘sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modernphilosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind’ ([7.1], 469, cf. [7.2], 294). A pure rationalist in morals may incline to saying that secondary qualities17 such as sounds and colours are insufficiently real for the analogy to guarantee the reality of moral distinctions (and hence call both Hume and Hutcheson sceptics). But even if we grant that colours, for example, are sufficiently real, we may still wonder whether Hume’s view of moral distinctions makes them sufficiently analogous. Regardless of whether or not colours are ‘real powers’, we can be right or wrong about them. That something looks red to me is not the end of the matter; if my vision is defective it may well look red, but be (as we say) yellow. Are virtue and vice sufficiently like colours in this respect—sufficiently real—for this to be true of them, according to Hume? Hume’s promise ([7.1], 547 n.) to consider ‘(i)n what sense we can talk either of a right or a wrong taste in morals, eloquence, or beauty’, is not made good in the Treatise but, with respect to beauty at least, it is, in the Essay ‘On the Standard of Taste’. Here Hume explicitly raises, and tries to solve, the sceptical problem that founding aesthetics on sentiment seems to present. ‘All determinations of the understanding are not right; because they have a reference to something beyond themselves, to wit, real matter of fact; and are not always conformable to that standard’ ([7.3], 1:268). But how can there be a Standard of Taste, according to which some aesthetic taste is right and some wrong, when ‘all sentiment is right; because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself, and is always real, wherever a man is conscious of it’ (ibid.)? Hume accepts that ‘beauty and deformity (…) are not qualities in objects, but belong entirely to the sentiment’; but maintains that ‘it must be allowed that there are certain qualities in objects, which are fitted by nature to produce those particular feelings’ ([7.3], 273; my italics).18 Supposing that there are such qualities, some ‘calculated to please, and others to displease’ ([7.3], 271), we may suppose that ‘if they fail of their effect in any particular instance, it is from some apparent defect or imperfection in the organ’ (ibid.). Here we do have the parallel with colour judgements; which indeed, Hume draws. If, in the sound state of the organ, there be an entire, or a considerable, uniformity of sentiment among men, we may thence derive an idea of perfect beauty; in like manner as the appearance of objects in daylight, to the eye of a man in health, is denominated their true and real colour, even while colour is allowed to be merely a phantasm of the senses. ([7.3], 272) So ‘the true standard of taste and beauty’ is the verdict of the person whose ‘organ(s)’ of aesthetic taste are ‘sound’—the good critic. And ‘(S)trong sense, united to delicate judgement, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character’ ([7.3], 278). Such a standard may, of course, be very difficult to apply, since it requires a prior identification of a good critic; but the original sceptical challenge was not to produce a standard which was easy to apply, but any standard at all. ‘It is sufficient for our present purpose, if we have proved, that the taste of all individuals is not upon an equal footing’ ([7.3], 279). A somewhat similar problem in relation to moral ‘taste’ is discussed in ‘A Dialogue’,19 where, once again, Hume seeks to ‘fix a standard’ ([7.2], 333), this time for moral judgements, and to defend a ‘universal standard of morals’ ([7.2], 343). His problem here is not directly that ‘all sentiment is right’, and the wide difference in this respect between sentiment and understanding, but the ‘wide difference, (…) in the sentiments of morals’ which we find between different cultures, such as the ancient Greeks and contemporary Frenchmen ([7.2], 333). Hume accounts for such differences by ‘tracing matters a little higher’ to what he calls ‘first principles’ (ibid.). Unlike the French, or Hume’s contemporaries, the Greeks recommend pederasty. But they do so ‘as the source of friendship, sympathy, mutual attachment and fidelity’ and concerning these ‘qualities’ there is no disagreement. On the contrary they are ‘esteemed in all nations and all ages’ ([7.2], 334). Unlike the ancient Greeks, the French justify duelling, but they do so by appealing to courage, a sense of honour, fidelity and friendship, qualities which, again ‘have been esteemed universally, since the foundation of the world’ ([7.2], 335). Several other examples are given; the general point that is inferred from them is that ‘the principles upon which men reason in morals are always the same’ (ibid.); ‘the original principles of censure and blame are uniform’ ([7.2], 336). Now this may be seen as a rather neat solution to ‘cultural relativism’ in morals; the moral disagreements we find between peoples is no proof that ‘a universal standard of morals’ is lacking, for they are mere surface disagreements concealing underlying agreement. In accordance with ‘the original principles’ of praise or blame ‘erroneous conclusions can be corrected by sounder reasoning and larger experience’ (ibid.). In the offing, we seem to have the promise of the ‘good critic’ in morals; someone whose wide experience, sound reasoning, freedom from parochial prejudice etc. would allow any action to produce ‘its due effect’ on her mind. But the ‘good critic’ in morals thus envisaged is looking at actions such as duelling, not qualities such as courage. Indeed, to reach his conclusion, Hume has to assume (a) that human beings agree, and always have, on some fairly large list of qualities as virtues; and (b) that they never disagree about the criteria of virtue: ‘never was any quality recommended by any one as a virtue (…) but on account of its being useful, or agreeable to a man himself, or to others’, (ibid.). Has he simply overlooked the problem of disagreements about which qualities are virtues? Or does the ‘good critic’ determine the standard here too? He is entitled, on his own terms, to assume (b) in ‘A Dialogue’, because the Enquiry has been devoted to proving it ‘by the experimental method’ ([7.2], 174). Its avowed intention is to ‘collect and arrange’ ‘particular instances’ of ‘the estimable or blameable qualities of men’, and to ‘discover the circumstances on both sides, which are common to these qualities…and thence to reach the foundation of ethics, and find those universal principles, from which all censure or approbation is ultimately derived’ (ibid.). Hume considers an impressively wide range (cf. [7.2], 277) of ‘estimable qualities’, i.e. virtues, (though fewer blameable ones), and, arranging them as ‘qualities useful/agreeable to others/ourselves’ etc. might well be taken to have proved to his point. However, in following this procedure he makes a certain assumption about the content of the predicate ‘useful’, failing to notice that ‘useful’ is, quite generally, end-directed. If something is useful, it must be useful insofar as it promotes something or other, some end; and the end itself must be taken as good, or worth promoting, if that which is a means to it is to be counted as useful. And Hume simply assumes that a quality useful to its possessor is one ‘which advance(s) a man’s fortune in the world’ ([7.2], 270); it is this assumption which enables him to dismiss ‘celibacy, fasting, penance, mortification, selfdenial, humility, silence, solitude, and the whole train of monkish virtues’ (ibid.) as not being virtues at all because they are neither useful nor agreeable to their possessor or to others. The ‘monkish virtues’ that he lists have rarely, if ever, been claimed to be useful because they ‘advance a man’s fortune in the world’, but, given the Christian view of the nature of man, they can still be made out to be useful; this is not because they advance their possessor’s fortune in this world, but because they preserve her soul for the next. Hume thought, at least in his Treatise days, that he could give an account of morality which was neutral with respect to any view about the end of man;20 he thought then, and continued to think, that an account of morality cannot bypass, but must be rooted in human nature. But it seems that questions about our end are, as Aristotle thought, inseparable from questions about our nature, and that Hume’s account of the latter became much less neutral after the Treatise when he came to address the question of right and wrong ‘taste’ in morals. Anyone who gives a religious or ascetic content to ‘useful’ and praises the ‘monkish virtues’ is a ‘gloomy, hair-brained enthusiast’ (ibid.); such people, under ‘the illusions of religious superstition or philosophical enthusiasm’ ([7.2], 343) lead ‘artificial lives’, wherein ‘the natural principles of their mind play not with the same regularity, as if left to themselves’ (ibid.). Nor are these the only people who get things wrong. Those who think that avarice and dishonesty are virtues (because they are useful in securing money and thereby pleasure) are themselves ‘the greatest dupes’ ([7.2], 283) having ‘sacrificed the invaluable enjoyment of a character, with themselves at least, for the acquisition of worthless toys and gewgaws’ (ibid.). So it seems that Hume’s ‘good critics’ in morals, the ones whose verdicts (if we follow ‘A Standard of Taste’) provide the true standard of morals, would have to possess not only wide experience and sound reasoning, and also ‘judge of things by their natural, unprejudiced reason, without the delusive glosses of superstition and false religion’ ([7.2], 270), but further, have the right conception of happiness or pleasure, the conception which dismisses ‘the feverish empty amusements of luxury and expense’ ([7.2], 284) in favour of ‘inward peace of mind, consciousness of integrity, (and) a satisfactory review of our own conduct’ ([7.2], 283). And there is his problem, for where, in Hume’s psychological or epistemological theory, is there room for the notion of right and wrong conceptions of happiness or pleasure? He may declare that the conceptions produced by the metaphysical speculations of religion or philosophy can be safely ignored, but it is not those that lead human beings to pursue ‘luxury and expense’, ‘toys and gewgaws’, instead of virtue. The pleasure we take in these worthless things seems all too natural, and it is not clear how Hume can dismiss it as in some sense ‘false’ without giving up his naturalism. If he believed in his ‘good critic’ in morals, he may have repudiated moral scepticism with sincerity, but not with consistency. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY In both the Treatise and the Enquiry Hume devotes special attention to justice, claiming that in some way, or ways, it is significantly different from most of the other virtues. In the Treatise he tries to capture the difference by calling it an ‘artificial’ virtue, and the others ‘natural’. This proved to be an unfortunate choice of words, since it immediately associated him with the most feared moral sceptics, Hobbes and Mandeville, (see above ‘Scepticism and Self-love’) and he dropped it in the Enquiry. The question of whether justice is natural is there relegated to a footnote, and dismissed as merely verbal ([7.2], 307–8). But it is clear that this does not signify any change in his position with regard to justice. NATURAL MOTIVES In the Treatise, the discussion of what distinguishes justice from (most of) the other virtues begins with a curiously difficult argument concerning motives. He begins by noting that ‘when we praise any actions, we regard only the motives that produced them’ ([7.1], 478); ‘all virtuous actions derive their merit only from virtuous motives’ ([7.1], 479). He immediately concludes that the first virtuous motive, which bestows a merit on any action, can never be a regard to the virtue of that action, but must be some other natural motive or principle. To suppose, that the mere regard to the virtue of the action, may be the first motive…is to reason in a circle. ([7.1], 478) It is hard to see why. What would be examples of virtuous motives? A parent’s concern for her child; a concern for the well-being of others (ibid. ([7.2], 303)); these, we may note, are passions that occur in us naturally. But what about a concern for virtue? Suppose I want to do a benevolent action because it is benevolent. This might happen, but it could not always happen amongst human beings in general. For benevolent actions are so-called because they are taken as signs of benevolence, the (naturally occurring) concern for the wellbeing of others; if there were no such concern in human beings, but only a ‘concern to do benevolent actions’, there would not be any benevolent actions, and hence the ‘concern’ to do them would lack an object. So, before there can be a concern to do benevolent actions there must ‘first’ be a natural concern for the well-being of others. Whether or not this argument works,21 Hume is certain that it does, and turns to the question of our motive for just action, taking as his example the question of what motive I have for repaying a loan when my creditor demands it. If the argument works, the motive cannot in general be a ‘regard to justice’, that is, a concern to do a just action: before there can be such a concern there must ‘first’ be some other motive. Hume rapidly rejects some suggestions favoured by other philosophers. It cannot be a concern for myself, i.e. self-interest ([7.1], 481) (since it may well not be in my interest to return the money), not even interest in my own reputation (since I may be able to preserve my reputation despite reneging on my debt). It cannot be a concern for the wellbeing of others, i.e. benevolence, for that might motivate me not to return the money. What if my debtor ‘be a profligate debauchee, and would rather receive harm than benefit from large possessions?’ ([7.1], 382). What about a concern for public interest? Hume has several objections to this ([7.1], 480–1), but his most trenchant mirrors his objection to benevolence as the motive. ‘A single act of justice is frequently contrary to public interest’ as in the case when a man disposed to spend his money in ways that benefit society restores ‘a great fortune to a miser, or a seditious bigot’ ([7.1], 497, cf. [7.2], 304 and 305). His action is just, but his concern for the public interest cannot be his motive, for that would motivate him to keep the fortune and spend it wisely in a way its rightful owners will not. This seems to exhaust the possibilities of natural motives to justice, so we are driven to the conclusion that in some sense our motive to just acts must be a ‘regard to justice’. By the circularity argument, this cannot occur naturally—cannot be ‘first’—so it must arise ‘artificially, though necessarily from education and human conventions’ ([7.1], 483). Hence Hume is led to a consideration of the origin of justice. THE ORIGIN OF JUSTICE AND PROPERTY Hume appears to see justice as exclusively concerned with property rights and the obligation to honour a few sorts of promises or ‘compacts’.22 So he does not attempt to account for rules of justice which secure the ‘natural rights’ such as the right to life, or liberty, but concentrates on those which secure ‘external goods’.23 He begins by considering what the natural explanation is of the undoubted fact that ‘man is a social animal’, and identifies ‘the first and original principle of human society’ not as self-love, but as ‘that natural appetite betwixt the sexes, which unites them together, and preserves their union, till a new tye takes place in their concern for their common offspring’ ([7.1], 486, cf. [7.2], 192). Thus bonded into a little society by familial affections or ‘limited generosity’, human beings are enabled to become aware of something they could never work out, by pure reason, in isolation ([7.1], 486), namely that society is advantageous. Compared with other animals, we are ill-equipped to satisfy our need for food and shelter on our own, but banded together we may do so ([7.1], 485). So we are prompted to union. But, advantageous as union is, it brings an attendant disadvantage. Those very external goods I can come to possess more easily when united with many other human beings are still in short supply, and moreover, more easily lost, prey no longer to the occasional wild animal, but to most of those other human beings. The ‘tender regard’ ([7.1], 494) my friends and family have for me keeps my possessions safe from them, but this ‘generosity’ with regard to me is confined to them. No one else has any motive to abstain from gratifying that ‘insatiable, perpetual (and) universal’ ([7.1], 492) avidity for possessions by taking mine. My possession of them is thus unstable. So nature puts us in a quandary, from which we extract ourselves, inventive creatures that we are, by agreeing on a convention about abstaining from the possessions of others, a convention which restrains our insatiable avidity and thereby ‘bestow(s) stability’ ([7.1], 489) on our own, and every one else’s possession. ‘By this means, every one knows what he may safely possess’ (ibid.). As soon as this agreement or convention is entered into ‘there immediately arise the ideas of justice and injustice’ (ibid.). Hume nowhere explicitly defines justice or describes what it is an idea of and it is not clear how he would do so. However, it is clear that he rejects a number of familiar definitions as empty or circular. Justice cannot be defined as respecting others’ property or rights because the ideas of property and right (as the singular of ‘rights’) arise after the idea of justice and are ‘altogether unintelligible without first understanding (it)’ ([7.1], 491). To appreciate the plausibility of Hume’s point here we must be particularly careful to give his terms their contemporary interpretation. My property, that which is mine in the meum tuum sense of ‘mine’, was commonly defined as anything I have a right to or in. Nowadays we find this odd, since we say we have a right to life, but do not regard our life as (our) ‘property’. But Grotius, Pufendorf and Locke all find it perfectly natural to say that my life is my property—for it is, after all, mine.24 So the ideas of property and right arise together, or not at all. But ‘what is a man’s property? Anything which it is lawful for him and him alone to use’ ([7.2], 197), that is anything (and only those things) ‘whose constant possession is established by the laws of society; that is, by the laws of justice’ ([7.1], 491, my italics). So to understand the idea of property (and hence of right) we must first have understood the idea of justice as a convention according to which we abstain from taking—not another’s property—but what they are actually possessed of. Prior to such a convention, actual possession is not even one-tenth of the law, because there is no law. Hume has now given an explanation of how the motive to just acts can, despite the circularity argument, be ‘regard to justice’. We respect the possessions of others because it would be unjust to take them (they are theirs, their property, they have a right to them)—but it would be unjust because it would violate an agreement that self-interest has lead us into. He must now explain why justice is a virtue and injustice a vice—why, that is, the contemplation of them causes ‘those peculiar sentiments’. Here the regard to public interest, (though not a motive to just acts) does come in. A violation of the agreement ‘displeases us, because we consider it as prejudicial to human society’ and we are concerned about that, not simply because of self-interest, but because ‘we partake of (the uneasiness of others) by sympathy’ ([7.1], 499). The contemplation of unjust acts we might do ourselves may, of course, cause only pleasure; but they are not thereby excused from being vicious, because the sentiment has not, as is requisite, been caused by taking the general point of view (see above, ‘Moral Sentiments’). THE ORIGIN OF GOVERNMENT AND THE SOURCE OF ALLEGIANCE Hume mostly forgets that he has argued that the motive to performing individual acts of justice (rather than to establishing rules of justice in the first place) is not self-interest, but ‘regard to justice’ itself, enhanced by ‘private education and instruction’ ([7.1], 501), by which means ‘the sentiments of honour (…) take root’ in childrens’ minds, ‘and acquire such firmness and solidity’ that they ‘may fall little short’ of natural principles (ibid.). Hence he accounts for our tendency to lapse into injustice, not as a motivational failure of our induced desire to be honourable or fulfill our obligations, but as an instance of the general human tendency to act against our long term (remote) personal advantage by seizing the present, or near, short term advantage.25 So natural to us is this tendency, that it cannot be changed or corrected; ‘the utmost we can do is to change our circumstances and situation, and render the observance of the laws of justice our nearest interest’ ([7.1], 537). Hence, having united into society, we go a step further and ‘establish political society’ or government, ‘in order to administer justice’ ([7.3], I: 113). ‘(C)ivil magistrates, kings and their ministers, our governors and rulers’ ([7.1], 537) are instituted as people with an immediate interest in the observance of justice, and the power to ‘inforce the dictates of equity thro’ the whole society’ (ibid.). This ‘new invention’ ([7.1], 543) of government, is also the invention of a new obligation or duty ([7.3], I: 114) namely that of obedience or allegiance to the state; the source of this obligation is thus shown to be a mixture of natural and artificial elements, like the source of the obligation to justice. Having perceived the advantages of society, we invent justice (rules governing possessions) to secure them; now conscious of the advantages of justice, we invent government to secure them. But Hume says very little about this source—the psychological mechanisms by means of which we ‘annex the idea of virtue’ to civil obedience.26 THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT AND THE OBLIGATION OF PROMISES Many of Hume’s predecessors27 had maintained that the source of the obligation to obedience (or allegiance) to the state, was an ‘original contract’ or covenant. (The point of this, Hume notes ([7.1], 549, cf. ‘Of the Original Contract’, [7.3], I: 443) was to justify civil disobedience under ‘an egregious tyranny in the rulers’ ([7.1], 549),28 something that could not be justified according to the rival account of the source of allegiance, namely, the divine right of kings.)29 We all promise, or contract, to obey the state authorities, consenting to their rule, on the understanding that they will secure for us the advantages of being in society, namely the advantages of justice. The contract is conditional—‘I promise to obey—if you keep your side of the bargain and maintain justice’. Hence, ‘as happens in all conditional contracts’ ([7.1, 550), one is freed from the obligation to keep to it when the condition lapses; in this case, when the state authorities, instead of maintaining justice, act unjustly themselves, and attempt ‘tyranny and oppression’. When the condition is met, the (moral) obligation to obedience is the (moral) obligation to keep the promise—and herein lies Hume’s objection to the account, for what is the source of the obligation to keep promises? Prior to embarking on his discussion of the origin of government, Hume has already, in the Treatise, argued that fidelity (to promises, or to one’s word), like justice, is not a natural but an artificial virtue. His starting-point, as before, is the circularity argument concerning motives. It is clear that my motive for doing whatever I have promised you to do is (usually) my sense of (my) duty (to do so); I do it because I promised to, because I am under an obligation to, because you have a right to demand that I do. But it is clear from the content of this motive, however expressed, that it cannot be a natural one. Just as possessions without a convention governing abstention are not property, so a mere form of words, even a form of words attended by a peculiar act of the mind (such as the thought ‘I resolve to do what I have just said I would do’), is not a promise, not something that puts the speaker under an obligation. But if not natural, how does it arise? Like justice, by convention. We agree on the convention that ‘a certain form of words’ will just count as binding the speaker to the performance of a particular action in the future, and ‘(t)his form of words constitutes what we call a promise’ ([7.1], 520). As with our agreement to abstain from others’ possessions, we see that such an agreement is, given our limited goodwill towards each other, necessary in order to secure certain advantages that we unite into society to gain. (The advantages here are those of the exchange of both goods and services. I promise to transfer my ten bushels of corn to you, in exchange for your transferring five hogsheads of wine to me; I promise to help you cut your ripe corn today in exchange for your helping me to cut mine tomorrow ([7.1], 519–20)). So we are prompted by self-interest to invent this convention, ‘which create(s) a new motive’ ([7.1], 520), and then (as with justice) we ‘annex the idea’ of virtue to it, through ‘(p)ublic interest, education and the artifices of politicians’ ([7.1], 523). Hence, the obligations to justice and fidelity to promise-keeping arise first, according to Hume, and are quite distinct from the obligation to civil obedience.30 But if the latter is not simply the obligation to keep one’s ‘original’ conditional promise, can Hume explain the justifiability of civil disobedience under ‘egregious tyranny’? ‘I flatter myself, he says, ‘that I can establish the same conclusion on more reasonable principles’ ([7.1], 550), but this may indeed be self-flattery. ‘(T)he natural obligation to allegiance’ is, he says, ‘interest’ (presumably the coincidence of self and common interest) and hence lapses as soon as the tyranny of the rulers ceases to promote it, in accordance with the ‘maxim’, ‘when the cause ceases, the effect must cease also’ ([7.1], 551). But this maxim would be false when applied to ‘the moral obligation of duty’; to some extent Hume ‘submit(s)’ to the argument ‘that men may be bound by conscience to submit to a tyrannical government’, despite the fact that the cause of the moral obligation (said here to be the natural obligation) has ceased. Hume’s point here seems to be that, once the idea of virtue has been annexed to civil obedience, so that the peculiar moral sentiments are firmly associated with it, this is not something that can quickly change. Despite knowing he is under tyranny, and that neither his own nor the common interest is being served, the virtuous man, who has been well brought up, will still find himself viewing obedience with moral approbation. Hume could say that he also finds himself viewing the injustice of the rulers with moral disapprobation strengthened by self-interest, and thereby account for our ceasing to ascribe viciousness to civil disobedience. But instead he maintains, rather vaguely, that ‘in all our notions of morals we never entertain such an absurdity as that of passive obedience, but make allowances for resistance in the more flagrant instances of tyranny’ ([7.1], 552). CONCLUSION It can be seen, from the foregoing, that the resounding battle cry of Book II of the Treatise—‘Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions’,—undergoes considerable modification, within the Treatise itself, as well as in its recasting in the second Enquiry and various essays. By the end of the modifications, neither the passions, nor reason, are quite what we, and Hume, initially took them to be. Many commentators have noted the essential role that reason plays in Hume’s account of justice, (passed over in silence in the Treatise but explicitly acknowledged in the Enquiry ([7.2], 307); fewer have reflected this back in Book II. Here, the only passions discussed in connection with reason and action are the ‘natural’ ones—anger, fear, pride, hatred, which Hume thinks we basically share with other animals—which reason serves. The moral sentiments, initially introduced as felt passions which prompt us to action as the other ‘animal’ passions do, appear, eventually, to be transformed into the correct reactions of the ‘good critic’ in morals, with her correct conception of happiness. And, in Hume’s discussion of justice, we find that, in virtue of our reason, unlike the other animals, we are able to invent new ideas which arouse passions—ideas such as those of justice, property, right, promise, obedience. Hume can indeed continue to maintain that reason serves the natural passion of self-love by coming up with these ideas. But in doing so, reason gains the whip hand. No longer a slave, it dictates what some of our passions will be, and thereby drives some of us to die for justice, to go to the stake rather than break a promise or contract, as no animal other than a rational animal could conceivably do. NOTES 1 Thomas Hobbes, 1588–1679. His influential work in political philosophy, the Leviathan, was published in 1651. Bernard Mandeville (1670–1733) published a cynical satire, The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Public Benefits, in 1714. Frances Hutcheson (1694– 1746) developed a ‘moral sense’ theory—see Chapter 11 of this volume. 2 Kemp Smith argues that Book III of the Treatise was probably written first ([7.27], chapters 1–111), a view which is explicitly rejected by Norton, [7.20]. 3 For discussion of the connections between Hume’s discussion of the passions in Book II and of morals in Book III see Ardal, [7.8], and Baier, [7.10]. 4 The main rationalists against whom Hutcheson and Hume argued were Ralph Cudworth (1617–1688) (see Chapter 1 of this volume), Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) and William Wollaston (1659–1724). Extracts from their writings are to be found in Raphael, [7.22], Selby-Bigge, [7.24] and Schneewind, [7.23]; their views are briefly discussed in Mackie, [7.19] and Sidgwick, [7.25]. 5 See in particular Stroud, [7.29], 6 Cf. Hutcheson in Raphael, [7.22], I: 317, or Selby-Bigge [7.24], I: 413. 7 That he intends such an exclusion is made clear by the only significant change he made when he recast Book II of the Treatise as A Dissertation on the Passions: ‘reason,…can never, of itself, be any motive to the will,…Abstract relations of ideas are the object of curiosity, not of volition. And matters of fact, Where they are neither good nor evil,…cannot be regarded as any motive to action’ ([7.3], II: 161, my italics). 8 See n.4 above. 9 Those who follow Kemp Smith in seeing Book I as arising from Hume’s reflections on morals (cf. n. 2 above) compare this claim with Treatise, p. 183—‘belief is more properly an act of the sensitive, than of the cogitative part of our natures’. 10 For a particularly challenging discussion of Hume’s treatment of ‘matters of fact’ such as ‘I owe you some money’, see ‘On Brute Facts’ in Anscombe, [7.7]. 11 This psychological account of the logical restrictions on moral approval or disapproval closely parallels his psychological treatment of the logical restrictions on pride. Cf. Foot, [7.13]. 12 The disconcerting feature of all calm passions, including the moral sentiments, is that, despite their being impressions, we may not notice them. They ‘are more known by their effects than by the immediate feeling or sensation’ (Treatise, p. 417, cf. Stroud, [7.29], 163). 13 These are the passages that lead some commentators (cf. [7.11] and [7.14]) to ascribe an ‘ideal observer’ theory to Hume. The ‘ideal observer’ theory was developed by Hume’s friend, Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1759. 14 Strangely enough, he ignores Hutcheson’s brief, but plausible account, (to be found in Selby-Bigge, [7.24], 1:124, quoted in Mackie, [7.19], 27). 15 The Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) is generally regarded as the founder of the ‘moral sense’ or ‘sentimentalist’ school developed by Hutcheson and Hume; see Chapter 8 of this volume. 15a See Treatise, pp. 484, 500 and 620. 16 [7.5], 30. 17 For Locke ‘s discussion of secondary qualities as ‘real powers’, see Chapter 4 of this volume. 18 It seems that Hume takes this to be established by the fact that ‘(a)ll the changes of climate, government, religion and language, have not been able to obscure (Homer’s) glory’ ([7.3], I: 271). 19 ‘A Dialogue’ was originally published with the second Enquiry in 1751; page references are to Selby-Bigge, [7.2] which includes it. For an excellent discussion of it, see King, [7.18]. 20 ‘For pray, what is the End of Man? Is he created for Happiness or for Virtue? For this Life or for the next? For himself or his Maker? your Definition of Natural depends upon solving these Questions, which are endless and quite wide of my Purpose.’ (Letter to Hutcheson, 1739, [7.4], I: 33.) 21 One of the few philosophers to have found it to contain something important is G.E.M.Anscombe, in ‘Rules, Rights and Promises’ and ‘On the Source of the Authority of the State’ in Anscombe, [7.7] and The Question of Linguistic Idealism’ in [7.6]. See also Snare, [7.28]. 22 Thomas Reid (1710–1796) criticized Hume for saying nothing about natural rights in Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind (1788), Essay V, chapter V, ‘Whether Justice be a Natural or an Artificial Virtue’. But it may be argued that Hume’s account covers natural rights as well as property rights—see Hursthouse, [7.17]. BIBLIOGRAPHY More comprehensive bibliographies are to be found in [7.15] below, and in ‘The Hume Literature of the 1980’s’ by Nicholas Capaldi, James King and Donald Livingstone, in American Philosophical Quarterly, 1991. Editions 7.1 A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L.A.Selby-Bigge, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1967. 7.2 Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. L.A.Selby-Bigge, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1963. This edition also includes ‘A Dialogue’. 7.3 Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, 2 vols, ed. T.H.Green and T.H.Grose, London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1889. 7.4 The Letters of David Hume, 2 vols, ed. J.Y. T.Grieg, Oxford, Clarendon Press , 1969. 7.5 A Letter from a Gentleman to his friend in Edinburgh, ed. E.C.Mossner and J.V.Price, 23 His account of how property rights arise has much in common with the accounts of two earlier writers on natural law, Hugo Grotius (1503–1645), and Samuel Pufendorf (1632–92); Hume indeed acknowledges his similarity to Grotius ([7.2], 307 n.). Nevertheless, he differs from each of them in respects which would make it quite inappropriate to describe him as a ‘natural law theorist’. 24 For an illuminating discussion of the terms ‘property’ and ‘right’ in seventeenth century natural law theorists, see James Tully, A Discourse on Property, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980. 25 No doubt as a consequence of Hume’s neglect of his own original view on the motive to particular just acts, most of Hume’s commentators also overlook it, and discuss him as if he were inevitably committed to the ‘free-rider problem’. For an unambiguous restatement of his original view on the motive to particular just acts, see ‘Of the Original Contract’ ([7.3], I: 455). 26 Presumably, he would suppose them to be similar to those by means of which ‘we annex the idea of virtue to justice’, but, if he had considered the matter, he would surely have said something too about the effects of state-enforced sanctions. He might have claimed, plausibly, that the idea of disobeying the laws will inevitably become associated in my mind with the unpleasant idea of punishment, and thereby lead me feel that disobedience is unattractive. 27 Most famously, Hobbes and Locke, but also Richard Hooker (1554?–1600), Benedict Spinoza (1632–77), Grotius and Pufendorf (see n. 23 above). Their idea of the original (or ‘social’) contract was subsequently supported by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–78). 28 This is not strictly true of Hobbes, whose sovereign is owed obedience however despotic; however Hobbes’s covenant does allow for civil disobedience to a sovereign who lacks the power to protect the convenanters. 29 Locke’s selected target in Two Treatises of Civil Government was the divine right theory of Robert Filmer, put forward in his Patriarcha (1680). 30 In ‘Of the Original Contract’ he even goes so far as to contrast ‘the political or civil duty of allegiance’ with ‘the natural duties of justice and fidelity’ ([7.3], I: 455). Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1967. Books and Articles 7.6 Anscombe, G.E.M. From Parmenides to Wittgenstein, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1981. 7.7——Ethics, Religion and Politics, Minneapolis, University Of Minnesota Press, 1981. 7.8 Ardal, P.S. Passion and Value in Hume’s Treatise, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1966. 7.9——‘Some Implications of the Virtue of Reasonableness in Hume’s Treatise’ in D.W.Livingston and J.T.King (eds) Hume: A Re-Evaluation, New York, Fordham University Press, 1976, pp. 91–106. 7.10 Baier, A. A Progress of Sentiments, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1991. 7.11 Firth, R. ‘Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1952. 7.12 Fogelin, R. H time’s Skepticism in the Treatise of Human Nature, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985. 7.13 Foot, P. ‘Hume on Moral Judgement’ in her Virtues and Vices, Oxford, Blackwell, 1978. 7.14 Glossop, R.J. ‘Hume, Stevenson, and Hare on Moral Language’ in D.W. Livingston and J.T.King (eds) Hume: A Re-Evaluation, New York, Fordham University Press, 1976, pp. 362–85. 7.15 Hall, R. Fifty Years of Hume Scholarship, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1978. 7.16 Hudson, S.D. Human Character and Morality, Boston, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986. 7.17 Hursthouse, R. ‘After Hume’s Justice’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1990–1). 7.18 King, J. ‘Hume on Artificial Lives’, Hume Studies XIV (1988), 1. 7.19 Mackie, J.L. Hume’s Moral Theory, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980. 7.20 Norton, D.F. David Hume, Common-sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1982. 7.21 Platts, M. ‘Hume and Morality as a Matter of Fact’, Mind (1988). 7.22 Raphael, D.D. British Moralists 1650–1800, 2 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press 1969. 7.23 Schneewind, J.B. Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant, 2 vols, Cam bridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990. 7.24 Selby-Bigge, L.A. British Moralists, 2 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1897. 7.25 Sidgwick, H. History of Ethics, London, Macmillan, 1931. 7.26 Smith, M. ‘The Humean Theory of Motivation’, Mind (1987). 7.27 Smith, N.K. The Philosophy of David Hume, London, Macmillan, 1941. 7.28 Snare, F. Morals, Motivation and Convention, Cambridge, Cambridge Univer sity Press, 1991. 7.29 Stroud, B. Hume, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977.

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  • British moralists of the eighteenth century: Shaftesbury, Butler and Price — David McNaughton In this chapter I discuss the moral theories of three influential writers: Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713); Joseph Butler (1692–1752) and Richard Price (1723–91). All three wrote extensively on issues …   History of philosophy

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