HUME'S PSYCHOLOGY OF REASON AND THE PASSIONS

 

REASON

PASSIONS: SENTIMENT, EMOTION, DESIRE

 

MEANS

(Hypothetical Imperatives)

 

 

ENDS

PURELY

DESCRIPTIVE

JUDGMENTS

MOTIVATING (NORMATIVE/ EVALUATIVE) "JUDGMENTS"

 

For Hume, Reason is purely INSTRUMENTAL.  It provides only Hypothetical Imperatives.  Reason is motivationally inert.  All motivation comes from the Passions.  For Hume, all choice

is HETERONOMOUS. 

 

 

METAETHICS

 

1.  METAETHICS = Theories of the meanings of normative moral terms and statements.

 

2.  COGNITIVISM with respect to moral discourse = Moral statements (i.e., particular moral judgments, moral rules and moral principles) make reports or claims that are either true or false.

 

3.  NON-COGNITIVISM with respect to moral discourse = Moral statements are neither true nor false; they are rather expressions of:  sentiments (Hume), or emotions (e.g., Ayer’s Emotivism), or attitudes (e.g., Stevenson’s Attitude Theory), or commendation or condemnation (e.g., Hare’s Prescriptivism). 

 

MORAL ANTI-REALISM (METAPHYSICAL RELATIVISM WITH RESPECT TO MORALITY) = No moral judgments are true—that is, no particular moral judgments or moral rules or moral principles are true—because there are no objective moral standards or objective moral truths. 

 

TWO VARIETIES OF MORAL ANTI-REALISM: 

 

Cognitivist Anti-Realism:  The view that all moral statements (i.e., all particular judgments, rules, principles) are false.

 

Non-Cognitivist Anti-Realism:  The view that moral statements are neither true nor false. 

 

MORAL REALISM = There are objective moral truths or standards, and thus some normative moral particular judgments and/or normative moral principles are true.  Normative moral judgments and principles are not purely descriptive, but they are made true (or false) by an objective normative moral reality.  (Obviously, a moral realist must be a cognitivist with respect to moral statements.)

 

 

Hume's Account of the Role of Reason and Emotion in Moral Judgment

 

A.  Judgments of Ingratitude

 

1.  Reason determines matters of fact:  A benefits B, then B refuses to reciprocate.

 

2.  Beliefs about matters of fact trigger sympathy (empathy) for A's situation.

 

3.  Sympathy for A triggers benevolence toward A, a desire for A's benefit.

 

4.  Benevolence toward A triggers a feeling of disapprobation (disapproval) of B's refusal to reciprocate.  This feeling of dissaprobation is expressed in the normative, moral judgment:  B ought to reciprocate A's good offices (or, alternatively, in the normative, moral judgment:  B is an ingrate!) 

 

B.  Judgments of Justice

 

1.  Reason determines matters of fact:  A borrowed money from B and refused to repay it.  A is poor and B is wealthy.

            2.  Beliefs about matters of fact trigger sympathy (empathy) for A's situation.

            3.  Sympathy for A triggers benevolence toward A, a desire for A's benefit.  Thus, a desire for A not to have to repay the loan.

            4.  But reason also determines that the system of credit benefits everyone, including A.  If loans were not required to be repaid, there would be no system of credit and everyone, including A, would be worse off.

            5.  Generalized benevolence overpowers the benevolent feelings toward A and leads to disapprobation of A for not repaying the loan to B.  This feeling of dissaprobation is expressed in the normative, moral judgment:  A ought to repay the loan to B (or Justice requires that A repay the loan to B.)

 

 

STRICT UNIVERSALITY VS. HISTORICISM AND CONVENTIONALISM ABOUT MORALITY

 

Strict Universality:  To claim that morality is strictly universal is to claim that there are fundamental moral principles that apply to all rational beings.

 

Historicism:  A historicist about morality claims that because moral principles and judgments are the result of a process of historical development, none are strictly universal.

 

Conventionalism:  A conventionalist about morality claims that moral principles and judgments are merely the product community agreement; none are strictly universal.

 

 

KOHLBERG'S SIX LEVELS OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT

(ETHICS OF JUSTICE/RIGHTS)

 

A.  PRE-CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 1:  Deferring to authority

 

STAGE 2:  Learning to satisfy one’s own needs.

 

B.  CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 3:  Conforming to stereotypical roles.

 

STAGE 4:  Sense that individual roles contribute to social order.

 

C.  POST-CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 5:  Morality thought of in terms of rights and standards endorsed by society as a whole.

 

STAGE 6:  Morality thought of as self-chosen, universal principles of justice.

 

            On Kohlberg's model, moral development is the development of an autonomous self, capable of being motivated by abstract principles understood as a kind of "mathematical" solution to conflicts of interests.

 

 

GILLIGAN'S SIX STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT (ETHICS OF CARE)

 

A.  PRE-CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 1:  Caring for the self.

 

STAGE 2:  Stage 1 concern judged to be selfish.

 

B.  CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 3:  Goodness is caring for others, frequently equated with self-sacrifice.

 

STAGE 4:  Illogic of the inequality between self and others becomes evident.  Search for equilibrium.

 

C.  POST-CONVENTIONAL LEVEL

 

STAGE 5:  Focus on the dynamics of relationships, to eliminate the tension between self and others. 

 

STAGE 6:  Care is extended beyond personal relationships to a general recognition of the interdependence of self and other, accompanied by a universal condemnation of exploitation and hurt.

 

            On Gilligan's model, moral development is the development of a self-in-relation.  Morality is understood in terms of the preservation of valuable human relations.  Progress from stage to stage is motivated by increasing understanding of human relationships.

 

 

CHARACTERISIC FEATURES OF THE JUSTICE PERSPECTIVE

 

PARADIGM:  CONTRACTS

 

EMPHASIS ON:

1.  REASON and LOGIC

2.  EXPLICIT PRINCIPLES

3.  IMPARTIALITY

4.  FAIRNESS

5.  AUTONOMY

6.  RIGHTS/OBLIGATIONS

7.  GOVERNS RELATIONS

     AMONG EQUALS

8.  COMPETITION (CONFLICTING

     INTERESTS)

9.  SELF-RELIANCE

 

 

CHARACTERISIC FEATURES OF THE CARE PERSPECTIVE

 

PARADIGM:  CARING RELATIONSHIP (e.g. Parent-Child Relationship)

 

EMPHASIS ON: 

1.  EMOTIONS

2.  RESPONSIVENESS TO

     SITUATIONS

3.  PARTIALITY

4.  COMPASSION, SYMPATHY OR

     EMPATHY

5.  INTER-CONNECTEDNESS

6.  RESPONSIBILITIES

7.  GOVERNS RELATIONS AMONG

     UNEQUALS

8.  COOPERATION (COMMON INTERESTS)

9.  TRUST

 

 

TWO COMMUNITARIAN VERSIONS OF THE EUTHYPHRO QUESTION

 

For a moral statement statement S (e.g., the statement that torturing children is wrong) made in a community C in which there is general agreement that S is true/appropriate:  Is S true/appropriate because the community agrees that S is true/appropriate; or does the community agree that S is true/appropriate because S is true/appropriate? 

            TRUTH/APPROPRIATENESS MAKING ANSWER:  S is true/appropriate because the community C agrees that S is true/appropriate.  (Agreement among the members of C makes S true/appropriate.)

            TRUTH DETECTION ANSWER:  The community C agrees that S is true/appropriate because S is true.  (Community C detects (though not infallibly) the truth of S.) 

THE NORMATIVE CULTURAL RELATIVIST VERSION USES THE WORD "TRUE" WHEREVER THERE IS A CHOICE.

 

THE COMMUNITARIAN NON-COGNITIVIST USES THE WORD "APPROPRIATE" WHEREVER THERE IS A CHOICE.

 

 

KANT vs. HUME

 

Source of Morality:  Reason vs. Sentiments

 

Cognitivism vs. Non-cognitivism

 

Realism vs. Anti-Realism

 

Duties vs. Sentiments/Virtues

 

Universal (All Rational Beings) vs. Conventional (One's Community)

 

Theory vs. Practice

 

Justice vs. Care Perspective

 

Communitarian Version of the Euthyphro Question:  Truth Detection Answer vs. Appropriateness Making Answer

 

Neo-Kantians (e.g., Ross, Rawls) vs. Neo-Humeans (e.g., Mackie, Baier)

 

 

THE ROLE OF REASON IN MORALITY

 

A. For Kant, Reason Provides Categorical Imperatives, Independent of Any Desires.

 

            POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: 

(1) It is hard to see how anyone who had no other desires could be motivated by reason alone to do anything.

            (2) Kant claimed that reason could provide a universal moral principle, but there does not seem to be general agreement among reasonable people on any proposed universal moral principle.

 

B. For Hume Reason is Motivationally Inert;  Morality is Based Solely on Sentiment.

 

            POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: 

(1) We seem to be able to reason about whether we ought to be motivated by the sentiments that we have, and this seems to make a difference to our motivation.

            (2) We may prefer a caring person to a merely dutiful person, but when someone lacks the appropriate sentiments, we still expect them to be able to recognize that most examples of killing, torturing, cheating, or stealing are wrong. 

 

C.  IS THERE A MIDDLE GROUND BETWEEN KANT AND HUME?