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Hume Moral evaluation

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Virginia Commonwealth University
PHIL 201
James Scow

HUME p. 276  Consists of three sections. They work together. First section is titled: influencing motives of the will. He is talking about what is capable of causing or stoping an action, internally. Can reason have an effect on an action.  Hes arguing here that the only thing that can cause you to act is a passion or desire. The only thing that can stop you from acting is a change in action. Itsa matter of feeling, not reason.  Can a rational action being rational be the cause of an action. Just because its rational does that mean that it is more likely to happen? The only thing that can cause you to act is a passion, and the only thing that can stop you is a change of passion. But its not a matter of reason. But reason does play a subordinate role. p. 277 “reason is and not only to be the slave of the passions”— passion is what gets the action started. Or desire. But reason is a tool, so if you desire you want coffee, reason helps you figure out how to satisfy that desire. And there are better and worse solutions. Reason being part of discovering a means to an end. Or the best means to an end. The more rational means to an end. But it is desire that starts the action. Reason plays a subordinate rule. Reason cannot say that passion is inaccurate. Passion is an original existence. It does not contain any representative quality. As do the things you evaluate. For example, a photograph. Or something representational. Reason can evaluate if it is accurate or not. And passion is the kind of thing that cannot be evaluated. Its not representing anything. Therefore it cant be evaluated. Its not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. Suppose that it is one or the other. If you said I prefer a scratch. There is nothing reason can do to say that passion is irrational. No passion is more rational than other passions.  You might say that because you desire x, you desire y. but if you then discover than that link is irrational, your desire for y becomes irrational. But that doesn’t mean the passion itself is irrational. The next session: The moral destinctions are not derived from reason:  Such disctinctions as virtue vs vice, right wrong, good evil.  Reason is not the faculty we use to determine if something is right or wrong, good or evil  P.285 sec 2 moral distinctions are derived from a moral sense. The way we know from whats right and whats wrong is because we have a feeling. An internal indicator of how we determine whats right or wrong. And these feelings are not reason. Feeling is not reason. Therefore its all feeling when it comes to morals. Moral distinctions are not derived from reason.We don’t come to know whats right and whats wrong based on an argument with a conclusion that says whats right and wrong. Morality is not a product of reason, its not knowledge in the sense that we talk about it. Because it doesn’t involve reasoning, induction and deduction. It is through our feelings that we determine morals.  Its important that when you consult these feelings you do it objectively. You don’t want to mix your own interest with the moral evaluation of the action. o Reason helps to explain the feelings that our moral sense gives us, but it is not the origin. For example, we might not like the idea of murder, but we don’t like it because of the internal feeling it gives us, not because of any reason we might try to use to explain this feeling. p.280 he says there is a connection between the first session and this section. First one which established that passion is what brings an action to an end. This section is referring to morals which are in
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