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Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Pages 24 (6024 words)
The essay will then examine Hume's accounts of liberty and necessity. Examining his treatment of these concepts in the Treatise and the Enquiry and suggesting why Hume's account is so singular and why it has been influential. This section will deal with the different conceptions of liberty and Hume's idiosyncratic understanding of necessity.
Whether David Hume believes that freedom of action is sufficient for moral responsibility has become a point of much contention amongst Hume scholars. Hume's account of moral responsibility is complex. He outlines a remarkably unorthodox framework within which to understand moral sentiments and responsibility. Within this framing he addresses the problem of freedom and offers a distinct account of moral evaluation. The precise conceptual content of this account continues to be a subject of lengthy debate amongst philosophers who understand Hume as intervening as a compatibilist into the free will debate. What his compatibilism means in the context of responsibility is, however, entirely different according to naturalist and classical interpretations. Different interpretative models entail differing conceptions of Hume's theory of responsibility. To ascertain whether freedom of action is sufficient for moral responsibility it is necessary to examine both interpretations. To this end, we must also make sense of Hume's numerous ideas of freedom, his radical conception of necessity and the reconciling project which entails his categorisation as a compatibilist. Only then will it be possible truly to address what kind of freedom, or necessity, Hume understands to be the necessary condition of moral responsibility.
Before we begin an examination of Hume's work it is impo ...
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