The Content and Objects of Moral Sentiment

Paul Russell

in Freedom and Moral Sentiment

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152906
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869343 | DOI:
 The Content and Objects of Moral Sentiment

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In this chapter, I deal with a number of difficulties involved in Hume's account of the nature and content of moral sentiment, as implied by his general theory of emotion. I argue that moral sentiment should be understood, not in terms of certain peculiar pleasant or painful feelings, but rather in terms of the relevant cognitive–evaluative features involved. Related to this problem, I also consider Hume's account of the objects of moral sentiment and the nature of moral virtue. Moral virtue cannot, I maintain, be understood simply in terms of pleasurable or painful qualities of (the human) mind. This observation indicates serious shortcomings in Hume's account of the nature of moral capacity, and I make several suggestions about how these weaknesses in Hume's theory can be removed.

Keywords: belief; emotion; evaluation; feeling; indirect passions; moral capacity; moral sentiment; moral status of animals; moral status of children; moral virtue; pain; pleasure

Chapter.  4880 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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