Hume I: Reason and Feeling in Moral Judgment
Hume held that when we make a moral judgment we need to be properly acquainted with the action and situation we are concerned to judge. This involves the apprehension of facts and in this apprehension we are guided by reason. But after having done so when we pass a moral judgment and say that the action we have been concerned with was ‘despicable’ or ‘noble’, when we blame or praise its agent, the blameworthiness or nobility of the action is not a further fact. The wickedness or merit of the action which we put into words in our moral judgments is not to be found in any of the features of the action and its relations, but in the judge’s mind. Since it is not to be found among what Hume described as the facts of the situation, the judgment which attributes moral value or wickedness to the action cannot be accountable to reason; it arises from the sentiments. It is not an expression of ‘the cool assent of the understanding’ but ‘the work of the heart’.
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