From Convention to Moral Desire

John Bricke

in Mind and Morality

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250111
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681240 | DOI:
From Convention to Moral Desire

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When restrained by dependence on suitable conventions, it is the combination of ‘selfishness and confin'd generosity’ — that is, a concern for one's own interests and those of one's friends and relations — that meets the conditions that C1 and C2 impose on moral sentiments pertaining to matters of justice. It is convention-dependent narrow interest that provides the virtuous non-moral desires that a moral sense of justice requires. This is the contention of the Artificiality Argument. To secure this conclusion in more than a formal way, however, David Hume must show that narrowly interested non-moral desires, thus constrained, can in fact meet C1's and C2's conditions. Crucially, he must show that the claims of narrow interest, when narrow interest functions within an appropriate framework of convention, correspond to the claims that ‘the rules of justice’ make on an agent's conduct. Hume's reflections on the interplay of morality and convention contribute substantially to his characterization of reasons for action, including specifically moral ones.

Keywords: David Hume; conventions; moral sentiments; justice; morality; Artificiality Argument; non-moral desires; narrow interest; reasons; action

Chapter.  17372 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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