Chapter

The General Point of View: Love and Moral Approval in Hume's Ethics

Christine M. Korsgaard

in The Constitution of Agency

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552733
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720321 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552733.003.0010
 The General Point of View: Love and Moral Approval in Hume's Ethics

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Hume thinks moral judgments are based on sentiments of approval and disapproval we feel when we contemplate someone from a “general point of view.” But why do we take up the general point of view? Hume argues that we take up the general point of view in order to avoid contradictions in our moral judgments, but this argument does not work because we do not make moral judgments until we take up the general point of view. This chapter proposes a different account. Hume argues that approval is a calm form of love, love of character, which sets a normative standard for other forms of love. The chapter argues that character, as a form of causality, is constructed from the general point of view. We take up the general view to view people as agents with characters, that is, as possible objects of love.

Keywords: approval; cause; character; general point of view; Hume; love; moral; normative; object; sentiment

Chapter.  20565 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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