* The Role of Feeling (Hutcheson)
* Hutcheson goes on to argue in length that reason isn’t enough to explain moral judgment * Reasons motivate action insofar as certain ends (goals; happiness) are an object of human “affections” such as self–love or benevolence (desire for our own or others’ happiness) * The end of promoting the public interest gives us a reason for action or approbation only insofar as we have a “moral sense” that makes us take pleasure in the character of agents that pursue it. * The Moral Sense and Virtue
* Hutcheson thinks of the moral sense as analogous to sense-perception, but his analogy is more complex than the one assumed by many contemporary authors who use them. * He’s not claiming that we sense that something is right or wrong * Instead, our moral sentiments are reactions to the sentiments that tend to be expressed in right or wrong actions. * In this sense, they are “second-order”: sentiments about sentiments and their arrangements into characters of intentional agents * This is a form of “virtue ethics,: which we’ll also see in Hume * Hume’s skeptical sentimentalism
* Hume extends Hutcheson’s arguments against the rationalists, maintaining that, while reason is needed to estimate the consequences of action, moral assessment depends on our sentiments toward others. * He uses the example of ingratitude as the basis for various arguments that purely rational relations such as contrariety won’t explain moral violations without appeal to sentiments toward others’ good or ill will. * He take this to mean that moral properties are in our minds, not in objects, and in that sense he’s a skeptic about them, though not about the concept of ethics. * He thinks moral properties are analogous to aesthetic rather than mathematical properties, but he also thinks that the emotional bases of moral “taste” are part of human nature and have to be developed properly to count as moral sentiments. * The base of moral sentiments
* Hume’s account of the development of moral sentiments isn’t given in this excerpt, so let me fill it in as described in his Treatise, it has two main stages 1) The first stage turns on our natural sympathy with others harmed or benefited by an agent * The initial basis for a moral sentiment simply amounts to the pleasure or pain we feel at benefit or harm to ourselves. By associating these impressions with the idea of an intentional agent whose good or ill will gives rise to them, we form passions of love or hate, pride or “humility” * These and other “passions” then get extended via sympathy to others benefited/harmed by someone. However, since sympathetic passions vary with out standpoint of observation (we react more to agents whose behavior affects others closer to ourselves), we don’t yet have moral sentiments * Correcting sympathetic passions
2) A second stage, of correction, is needed to allow for consistent uses of moral language across different standpoints of observation, as required by the communicative use of moral judgment. * The corrected passion reflected a “general” or “common” point of view, the standpoint of an ideal observer or spectator, understood as someone in the circle of those affected by the agents actions * It’s only after this correction that we can be said to have moral sentiments, so they needn’t reflect our immediate reactions. Sometimes they even rest solely on supplying a term, without any corresponding feeling, for the sake of consistency with similar cases at different distances from us. * Kant’s principled rationalism
* Kant reformulates rationalism as based on respect on respect for law as such, without reference to any ends of “inclination,” and hence applying to rational beings * Rather than appealing to moral relations of “fitness,” he bases his account of duty on a principle of universalizability (the...
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