Hume's Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
My Personal Philosophy Essay Example - PROFESSAY Samples
In the Treatise he argues against the epistemic thesis (thatwe discover good and evil by reasoning) by showing thatneither demonstrative nor probable/causal reasoning has vice andvirtue as its proper objects. Demonstrative reasoning discoversrelations of ideas, and vice and virtue are not identical with any ofthe four philosophical relations (resemblance, contrariety, degrees inquality, or proportions in quantity and number) whose presence can bedemonstrated. Nor could they be identical with any other abstractrelation; for such relations can also obtain between items such astrees that are incapable of moral good or evil. Furthermore, weremoral vice and virtue discerned by demonstrative reasoning, suchreasoning would have to reveal their inherent power to produce motivesin all who discern them; but no causal connections can bediscovered a priori. Causal reasoning, by contrast, doesinfer matters of fact pertaining to actions, in particular theircauses and effects; but the vice of an action (its wickedness) is notfound in its causes or effects, but is only apparent when we consultthe sentiments of the observer. Therefore moral good and evil are notdiscovered by reason alone.
Ethics is the practical application of moral philosophy
Kant held that ordinary moral thought recognized moral duties towardourselves as well as toward others. Hence, together with thedistinction between perfect and imperfect duties, Kant recognized fourcategories of duties: perfect duties toward ourselves, perfect dutiestoward others, imperfect duties toward ourselves and imperfect dutiestoward others. Kant uses four examples in the Groundwork, oneof each kind of duty, to demonstrate that every kind of duty can bederived from the CI, and hence to bolster his case that the CI isindeed the fundamental principle of morality. To refrain from suicideis a perfect duty toward oneself; to refrain from making promises youhave no intention of keeping is a perfect duty toward others; todevelop one’s talents is an imperfect duty toward oneself; andto contribute to the happiness of others is an imperfect duty towardothers. Again, Kant’s interpreters differ over exactly how toreconstruct the derivation of these duties. We will briefly sketch oneway of doing so for the perfect duty to others to refrain from lyingpromises and the imperfect duty to ourselves to develop talents.