Ethics (David Hume and Kant)

Ethics (David Hume and Kant) Essay example
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Kant stands for moral principles and human rationality above human emotional responses while Hume theorizes that what we need is a “livable ethics” which is honest to human feelings rather than bases itself on some abstract moral principle which has no connection to human nature…


Hume tries to anchor his definition of morals in human sentiments, he is seen to stray away into pure rhetoric. For example, Hume has said, “what is honourable, what is fair, what is becoming, what is noble, what is generous, takes possession of the heart, and animates us to embrace and maintain it” (4). In contrast to this he (Hume) claims that “what is intelligible, what is evident, what is probable, what is true procures only the cool assent of the understanding; and gratifying a speculative curiosity, puts an end to our researches” (4) These are not propositions supported by reason but only statements which have a subjective quality. Thus to question the role of reason, Hume is compelled to use arguments which themselves are based on reason and this could be considered as the greatest disadvantage of Hume while proving his theory.

Kant adheres to an a priori moral principle based on pure reason while Hume derives his principle from a posteriori elements such as experience and observation. For Hume, virtue is created out of feelings but Cant contests this argument by saying that “in its Idea there is only one virtue; but in fact there is a multitude of virtues, made up of several different qualities”. In this manner, Kant is able to define the boundaries of his principle into a unified theory while Hume, by stressing upon experience, falls pray to a multitude of variations of virtue. Such kind of variations by which virtue as a moral value looses its very sense of purpose. ...
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