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Hume's MoralityFeeling and Fabrication$
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Rachel Cohon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268443

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199268443.001.0001

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Feeling Virtue and the Reality of Moral Distinctions

Feeling Virtue and the Reality of Moral Distinctions

(p.96) 4 Feeling Virtue and the Reality of Moral Distinctions
Hume's Morality

Rachel Cohon (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers whether Hume is a moral realist or anti-realist, and presents the moral sensing view as an interpretation of his positive theory of moral judgment. On the moral sensing view Hume is not a noncognitivist; he regards moral sentiments themselves as lacking truth or falsehood, but moral ideas for him can be true or false and are often true, in the full-blooded sense in which any ideas are true. However, the evidence shows that Hume is not a moral realist as that present-day term is most widely understood; and this is consistent with his cognitivism. Thus, we see that one form of ethical cognitivism is compatible with moral anti-realism. This position captures some of what appeals to many philosophers about moral anti-realism without having to make the counter-intuitive claim that our moral assessments are without cognitive content, and without having to invent for them a weaker notion of truth than the one we apply to other sorts of discourse.

Keywords:   Hume, moral sensing, noncognitivist, cognitivism, anti-realism

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