• Hume vs. Kant On the Nature of Morality

    Author(s):
    Irfan Ajvazi (see profile)
    Date:
    2022
    Subject(s):
    Philosophy, Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804, Hume, David, 1711-1776
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Immanuel Kant, David Hume
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/vhp9-rn33
    Abstract:
    The moral debates continued to see good as merely that which gives happiness or pleasure. \"…it was assumed that what we ought to do is always a function of what it would be good to bring about: action can only be right because it produces good (J.B. Schneewind 'Modern Moral Philosophy'). It was the breaking away from this idea that was perhaps the most important aspect of the works of both Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776). Hume's moral theory arose out of his belief that reason alone can never cause action. Desire or feelings cause action. Because reason alone can never cause action, morality is rooted in our feelings. Virtue arises from acting on a desire to help others. Hume's moral theory is therefore a virtue-centered morality rather than the natural-law morality, which saw morality as coming from God. Kant's notion of morality arose from his notion of a moral law; a law applicable to all people at all times, that imposes absolute duties on us. According to Kant, you \"ought to act according to the maxim that is qualified for universal law giving; that is, you ought to act so that the maxim of your action may become a universal law\" (Immanuel Kant 'Lectures of Mr. Kant on the Metaphysics of Morals'). Kant, unlike Hume, saw it as possible to act on reason alone, and whether or not a person acted morally depended on whether he/she had acted on reason alone. The essential difference between Kant and Hume that affected their whole thinking on the matter of morality was each one's belief about the autonomy of the will. Kant saw the will as fully autonomous and therefore needing no external sources for motivation, thus making it possible to act out of reason alone.
    Notes:
    The moral debates continued to see good as merely that which gives happiness or pleasure. \"…it was assumed that what we ought to do is always a function of what it would be good to bring about: action can only be right because it produces good (J.B. Schneewind 'Modern Moral Philosophy'). It was the breaking away from this idea that was perhaps the most important aspect of the works of both Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776).
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    Last Updated:
    8 months ago
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