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Ferguson’s Faculty and Moral Psychology

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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives internationales d’histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 191)

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Human Nature Eighteenth Century Moral Philosophy Human Constitution Moral Psychology 
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References

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    The’ self-preservation and propagation of the species’ is secured by ‘original and immediate instincts. Hunger, thirst, the passion which unites the two sexes, the love of pleasure and the dread of pain. TMS., II. i. 5. 10, pp. 77–8. Ferguson agreed that these drives secure our physical preservation, however he does not regard this as the ‘great end of nature’; our species is destined for much more, namely, the perfection of the moral personality. Ferguson attributes to Hume the belief that ‘morality is founded on utility and that virtue is only a cow that gives milk of a particular sort’. ‘Principle of Moral Estimation’ Collection of Essays, No. 25, p. 205. See also Ferguson’s critique of Smith’s theory of sympathy where he disparages Smith’s substitution of’ sympathy’ for genuine moral sentiments. ibid. For Smith’s views on the role of beneficence see, TMS II. ii. 3. 3, p. 86.Google Scholar
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    P.I., p. 29. Ferguson emphasises that both the self and other regarding drives are species survival mechanisms: ‘The general tendency of benevolence, like that of the animal propensities, is to preserve the human race, and to render man useful to his fellow creatures...while the selfish principles co-operate to the preservation of the whole, by preserving...the safety of individuals apart, benevolence’ works to the ‘general’ good. P.II., p. 19. See also P.II., p. 122, for more on the social utility of beneficence.Google Scholar
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