Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5f95dd588d-9m5st Total loading time: 0.245 Render date: 2021-10-28T17:37:47.160Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Article contents

Hume, Treatise, III, i, 1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2009

Donald F. Henze
Affiliation:
California State University, Northridge

Extract

The reappearance of Professor Alasdair MacIntyre's far-ranging and provocative article, ‘Hume on “is” and “ought”’, is the proximate cause of this short excursion to an old, well-scarred, and still fascinating battleground. Re-reading MacIntyre's brilliant offensive thrust led me to review the counter-attacks and diversionary movements that followed its first appearance. They in turn sent me back, inevitably and ultimately, to look again at the cause of this philosophic skirmishing: Section 1 of Part i of Book III of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, entitled ‘Moral Distinctions not deriv'd from Reason’. The battles of the past have been waged chiefly round the last paragraph of this Section (pp. 469–470 in Selby-Bigge's edition), but my primary concern here is going to be with those ‘reasonings’ that precede the celebrated ‘is-ought’ paragraph. Closer attention to the bulk of Book III, Part i, Section 1, to which ‘reasonings’ Hume says he ‘cannot forbear adding … an observation’ on ‘is’ and ‘ought’, and some selective attention as well to Books I and II of the Treatise, should help to scale down the exaggerated importance attached to the ‘is-ought’ passage. Unless this is done, one runs the risk of permitting a tailpiece to wag the body of the chapter, if not the whole Book ‘Of Morals’.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1973

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 In MacIntyre, Alasdair, Against the Self-images of the Age: Essays on Ideology and Philosophy (London: Duckworth, 1971)Google Scholar. ‘Hume on “is” and “ought”’ appeared originally in The Philosophical Review, LXVIII, no. 4 (10 1959).Google Scholar

2 See, e.g., articles by Atkinson, R. F., Flew, A., Hunter, G., and Hudson, W. D. in Hume, ed. Chappell, V. C. (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1966)Google Scholar, or in The Is-Ought Question, ed. Hudson, W. D. (London: Macmillan, 1969).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3 Hume writes, in the first paragraph of II, i, 1: ‘I am not, however, without hopes, that the present system of philosophy will acquire new forms as it advances; and that our reasonings concerning morals will corroborate whatever has been said concerning the understanding and the passions’ (S-B., 455).

4 Nowell-Smith, P. H., Ethics (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1954), 37.Google Scholar

5 MacIntyre, , Against the Self-Images of the Age, 122Google Scholar; Hume, ed. Chappell, 261Google Scholar; The Is-Ought Question, ed. Hudson, 4748.Google Scholar

6 Flew, A. G. N., Evolutionary Ethics (London: Macmillan, 1967), 39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7 Not ‘human nature’ as Nowell-Smith's ‘free translation’ suggests.

8 Hume, , An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Hendel, Charles W. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957)Google Scholar, Appendix I, ‘Concerning Moral Sentiment’, 108109.Google Scholar

9 Hume, , An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Hendel, Charles W. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1955)Google Scholar, ‘Of the Academical or Skeptical Philosophy’, 172.Google Scholar

10 For three short comments on active passion, inactive reason, and the ‘is-ought’ question, see Foot, Philippa, ‘Hume on Moral Judgement’, in David Hume, A Symposium, ed. Pears, D. F. (London: Macmillan, 1963), 73Google Scholar; Kydd, Rachel M., Reason and Conduct in Hume's Treatise (New York: Russell and Russell, 1964), 5354Google Scholar; and Broiles, R. David, The Moral Philosophy of David Hume (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), 93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11 I am indebted to John Kekes for his helpful criticisms of an earlier draft of this paper.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Hume, Treatise, III, i, 1
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Hume, Treatise, III, i, 1
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Hume, Treatise, III, i, 1
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *