Reason, Universality, and Moral Thought

John Finnis

in Reason in Action

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580057
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729379 | DOI:
Reason, Universality, and Moral Thought

Show Summary Details


This chapter presents an unpublished 1971 essay on Hume's basic theses about moral judgments and predicates argues that those theses attribute more to reason (and reasons) than Hume officially allows. The need to judge reasonably is more basic and motivating than the need to attain a common judgment. For first-person questions such as ‘Do I think that p?’ is transparent for ‘Is it right — reasonable — to think that p?’, and the agreement of others is irrelevant to questions of the latter kind. This line of inquiry leads to a first formulation of the theses further developed in the previous chapter about first practical principles, and specifically about friendship, practical reasonableness, and the viewpoint of the impartial but concerned observer or universal spectator.

Keywords: Hume; reason; motivating; transparency; first-person questions; moral predicates

Chapter.  2238 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.