David Hume - History of Moral and Political Philosophy

History of Moral and Political Philosophy

In his Enquiry concerning Morals Hume writes:


“Were there a species of creatures intermingled with men, which, though rational, were possessed of such inferior strength, both of body and mind, that they were incapable of all resistance, and could never, upon the highest provocation, make us feel the effects of their resentment; the necessary consequence, I think, is that we should be bound by the laws of humanity to give gentle usage to these creatures, but should not, properly speaking, lie under any restraint of justice with regard to them, nor could they possess any right or property.”

  • What view is Hume expressing here and why does he hold it? What is the most important objection to Hume’s view? Can Hume provide a satisfactory response to that objection?
  • Your paper will start with a short introductory paragraph that describes the main issue you will be addressing and how you will proceed in the rest of the paper. There will then be three substantive parts.
  • The first substantive part will explicate the view Hume is expressing and how it fits into his position of justice as a whole. Your job in this part is to explain to your readers what Hume is saying and why he is saying it.
  • The second substantive part will raise what you take to be the most important objection to Hume’s view.
  • The third substantive part will address whether Hume can refute the objection. What is the best response Hume can offer? Is that response successful? Why or why not?
  • You may end with a concluding paragraph, if you think your paper will be improved by a summing up. But that is not essential (your third substantive section may be a satisfactory ending).
  • When referring to Hume’s primary texts, use David Hume: Moral Philosophy, edited by Sayre-McCord for Hackett. Please make sure to use an approved form of quotation and citation.
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