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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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The Common Point of View

The Common Point of View

(p.126) 5 The Common Point of View
Hume's Morality

Rachel Cohon (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question how an emotion-based theory of moral discrimination, one that in many ways assimilates moral cognition to color sensation, can explain the fundamental expectation that moral evaluations will be widely shared within a community. Hume explains the causal origin of our moral sentiments by means of the mechanism of sympathy, and he completes his account of moral evaluation with an appeal to our use of the common point of view to compensate for the variations in sympathy's workings. The account threatens to become inconsistent, first because it sounds as if Hume is backing off from his claim that moral discrimination is not an activity of reason, and secondly because he seems tacitly to retract his claim that passions (including the moral sentiments) have no representative character. The chapter offers a two-feeling interpretation that removes these inconsistencies.

Keywords:   Hume, moral discrimination, moral evaluations sympathy, emotion-based theory, moral sentiments

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