Ethics, Hume

Yes, empathy with other human beings can provide a basis for morality because empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share feelings with another and morality is defined as the a particular system of values and principles of conduct. Therefore, empathy is the motivation for morality. David Hume, the author of “A Treatise of Human Nature”, was a Scottish philosopher that believed the “good of man kind is the only object of laws and regulations”.

Hume is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time based off his arguments; everything is natural, orality is based on natural feelings and only desires can motivate human beings. The objective of this paper is to introduce Hume’s philosophy, interpret “A Treatise of Human Nature” and follow up with support that empathy does in fact motivate morality. David Hume’s book “A Treatise of Human Nature” strives to introduce an innovative method of reasoning for anything that can be harmed.

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Hume does not believe there is any exact order of natural law and a natural/ unnatural theory cannot distinguish whether an action is moral or immoral. Hume’s theory is the opposite of ome of Hobbe’s theories. Hume believes that psychological egoism is false while Hobbe’s believes it is true. Hume also argues that social contact is pointless while Hobbes believes it is a key aspect of morality. Hume also argues in “A Treatise of Human Nature” that reason can not be a basis for morality, rather feelings are the motivation for morality and reason only identifies facts.

Another key argument of Hume’s is one cannot argue ‘is’ to ‘ought’, the denotation of ‘is’ today means fact’ while ‘ought’ is a view of how something should be. Hume’s philosophy is that only natural esire can motivate, this includes: self-interest, benevolence, and usefulness.. Justice in our world is tied into the desire of usefulness or a utility to human beings, however Justice in Hume’s eyes is considered an artificial virtue or unnatural because it is created by humans.

On the other hand, Sympathy is considered the communication of sentiments, a basis for all moral distinctions, allowing morality to be possible. In “A Treatise of Human Nature”, Hume states that there is no exact morality between all human beings, we all have a foundation that is based off of ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God” within which most reasoning is derived from empathy with others. Not to be confused that reasoning is a motivation for morality, but rather facts that help identify the natural feelings that motivate our actions or morals, whether they are right or wrong.

Hume states, “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions”, where empathy can be considered the slave of passions for morality. There couldn’t be reasoning for morals, making certain things right and others wrong without being able to understand and hare this moral with others. For instance, murder is considered against the ‘moral code’ because it is said to be wrong based on our feelings and understanding of life and how others may feel if it were to occur to someone they loved, allowing the majority of humans to base their morality on empathy.

Take matrimony for example, the Joining of two individuals for life could be considered part of empathy; sharing feelings with another, based on the fact that it is considered ‘morally right’ for those who wish to live together and make a family to be marriage, on a basis of empathy. Hume also argues against reasonlng as a Oasis Tor morallty Decause preTerences are considered “original existences” and cannot be evaluated as rational or irrational.

He states, “Reason is a slave to the passions” meaning that reason alone cannot be the motivation of morality; therefore there must be a pre-existing desire to motive morality. Hume goes against philosophers that came before him with the idea that reasoning has no part when determining goals for oneself. Human beings are taught to know the moral differences between right and wrong. Our reasoning for our hoices whether right or wrong is not thought to have an outright reason, but rather an underlying desire which comes naturally to us.

Hume’s thinking is much different than that of philosophers before him, going against reasoning as the basis of morality. He is still very famous in the philosophical and scientific world for his theories that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience and critical examination of other philosophers works which lead to his writing of” A Treatise of Human Nature”. The means to understand and share feelings with other human beings is the motivation of all morality.

from Nandarnold

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