Moral Agents

John Bricke

in Mind and Morality

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250111
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681240 | DOI:
Moral Agents

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This chapter reflects on the many properties that David Hume assigns to moral agents and examines the interrelations of those properties. The goal is to summarize the central elements in the closely argued, and intricately articulated, moral psychology presented by Hume. A typical moral agent is, more primitively, a non-moral one. Her specifically moral desires (and so also her specifically moral affections) aside, she is an individual with non-moral desires and affections, and with a host of other physical, psychological, and social features. For Hume, what makes an individual an agent, whether non-moral or moral, makes her a free agent as well. This can be seen from a consideration of his views about freedom to act and about free action. In the Treatise of Human Nature, he distinguishes two notions of liberty or freedom, allowing the legitimacy of the first. Hume's moral agents are free agents fully subject to nature's causal laws; they are also rational agents.

Keywords: David Hume; moral agents; moral psychology; moral desires; moral affections; non-moral desires; free agents; freedom to act; free action; liberty

Chapter.  7456 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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