StudentShare solutions
Triangle menu

The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy - Essay Example

Nobody downloaded yet

Extract of sample
The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy

Hume thought that what we perceive become images, and these images or pictures of reality are manipulated by reason. But, there is no manipulating these perceptions without the prior perceptions or sensations first: “I shall endeavor to prove first, that reason alone can never be a motive to an action of the will; and secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of the will” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 244]. What Hume is arguing, can be described as presenting a very sharp or definite distinction between “reason” which he calls “utterly impotent” when contrasted with the “passions” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 247]. And, unlike the images that can be manipulated by reason, the relationship between the “passions” and “actions” is a direct one or as he phrases it: “morals excite passions, and produce and prevent actions ... the rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 247]. Most might maintain that reason and the senses have a more connected or inter-twined relationship. It is important to stress that reason is only connected to 'necessary' types of truths like mathematical equations. That is, truths that are valid regardless of sense experience. Or, truths that are valid because of the rules themselves: “reason is the faculty judges of truth and falsehood” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 687]. One of the effects or consequences of this model is that there are actually no irrational actions. If the actions or the relationship between passions and actions are separate or only interact with each-other rather than reason, then this interaction cannot be said to be one that has any rationality. As is summarized by Cahn and Markie: “If the only possibility Hume means to be putting forward here, is the possibility of action based on false belief about causes and effects, we get a curious result ... people never act irrationally” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 687]. They cannot act irrationally, precisely because 'action' in-itself is not a rational thing either in its manifestation as an actual sensible activity or event, and not rational in the sense that it was motivated by an 'impulse' or a 'sensation'. It is the reaction to a sensation. 'General Statement' of the Role of Reason as subordinate to the Senses: Thus, for Hume, morality is inseparable from the sentiments or a form of sentimentality. The “only possible source of motivation” for Hume, is to “satisfy” a “passion” [Cahn and Markie, Ed., 685]. The role of reason is to evaluate only the rules that are abstracted from sense experience, which means that all human motivation and all human action is one driven by passions. Thus, Hume resolves that problem in his discussion of benevolence and justice by establishing a theory of sentiments at the core of moral decisions. Sentiments are measured in terms of the greater pleasure or conversely, the greater harm that results. And, therefore, a just society is one that functions in harmony with the avoidance of the sensation of pain and the increase of pleasure. Again, it is important to stress that this connection with justice is one that is grounded in 'sense experience' but also the reasoning about it to – as is the nature of laws. Finally, it is possible to put forward a straight forward example to illustrate the notion of 'benevolence' and 'justice'. Just as a sensation can cause an increase in pleasure, so too with ...Show more
Cite this document
  • APA
  • MLA
(“The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy Essay”, n.d.)
Retrieved from
(The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume'S Moral Philosophy Essay)
“The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume'S Moral Philosophy Essay”, n.d.
  • Cited: 0 times


The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy: To understand the moral philosophy of David Hume, it is important to understand that it is in some regards inseparable from his theory of knowledge. For Hume, there was a sharp distinction between that which is perceived by the senses, and that which is known through reason…
The Subordinate Role of Reason in Humes Moral Philosophy
Read Text Preview
Save Your Time for More Important Things
Let us write or edit the essay on your topic
"The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy"
with a personal 20% discount.
Grab the best paper

Check these samples - they also fit your topic

Moral Philosophy
"Even in applied ethics, awareness is often missing. The tone of much writing suggests that John Stuart Mill is still alive and that none of the twentieth centuries has happened. (‘Never such innocence again' has not been applied to ethics.) [Glover hopes] to help change this by encouraging an idea of ethics as a more empirical subject."
10 pages (2500 words) Essay
Hume's Philosophy about reason and Passion
He argued that nevertheless reason is very useful & it leads us to the judgment between good & evil, but when it comes to motivation it is the passion which leads & the reason behaves like a slave of it. Human emotions are not subjected to reasons & they are stronger than logics & previously defined ethics.
3 pages (750 words) Essay
Nietzsche Moral Philosophy
He looked at morality as a commitment to metaphysical and empirical claims about human agency. He also looked at the impact of morality on the norms and values of human beings that became considered higher than others. His ethical views were a combination of the implicit theory of good and an understanding of human perfection.
7 pages (1750 words) Essay
Moral Journeys Philosophy Essay
Garrett Hardin’s article “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor” presents solid argument against helping the poor. In author’s view, generosity towards the underprivileged nations is an ethical misconception. The arguments Hardin provides can be grouped in three categories: metaphors, utilitarian, and relativist arguments.
5 pages (1250 words) Essay
hich we must deduct whether a miracle has taken place is higher than it is the case of other cases asserting to identify some extraordinary or unanticipated occurrence. It is consequently not a miracle if a healthy person in unlikely events dies. Though an occurrence of this form may be impractical, it does not sometimes take place.
7 pages (1750 words) Essay
Moral Philosophy
The distinction is that whatever it is that he fashions out of the common lot in nature, removed from that which nature provides in common with all other men, is his. This is the spring of the notion of property as it is envisioned by Locke.
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
Moral Philosophy
The patient will take the dose themselves, and the does is not directly administered by the physician. It happens when the patient makes the decision to end their own life, and asks for the means to do so from their physician. On the other hand, VAE is when a physician would normally act directly to end a patient's life, and would be the one administering the dosage or lethal injection that would put the patient's life to an end.
2 pages (500 words) Essay
Philosophy Contemporary Moral Problems
It is difficult to talk about natural rights in the sense that to own a right means to be in a position to benefit from the duties enjoined on others, and that any
7 pages (1750 words) Essay
g to Hume, “it would be a miracle that a dead man should come to life.” Thus, Hume says that when we have a standardized understanding that verifies the existence of regularities of this type we have “a substantial testimony, from the nature of the verity, against the
7 pages (1750 words) Essay
Elements of Moral Philosophy
The concept of utilitarianism is built on the idea that the basis that every moral reasoning depend on the happiness or unhappiness of individuals. It is based on Bentham's idea about utility and how we chose the best possible outcome from other that seems optimistic.He offers a clear course of action that eliminates confusion.
6 pages (1500 words) Essay
Comments (0)
Click to create a comment
Let us find you another Essay on topic The Subordinate Role of Reason in Hume's Moral Philosophy for FREE!
Contact us:
Contact Us Now
FREE Mobile Apps:
  • About StudentShare
  • Testimonials
  • FAQ
  • Blog
  • Free Essays
  • New Essays
  • Essays
  • The Newest Essay Topics
  • Index samples by all dates
Join us:
Contact Us