Ethics Paper

Submitted By 333colton
Words: 549
Pages: 3

The moral sense vs. Reason

In Hume’s ethics he questions “Whether ’tis by means of our ideas or impressions we distinguish betwixt vice and virtue, and pronounce an action blame-able or praise-worthy?”(Hume) He is determined to discover if rationalism or sentimentalism is correct. Rationalism states that moral laws are laws of reason; therefore they compel us through our rational nature. Sentimentalism states that human beings are not self-interested, but that they are capable of benevolence or the decided lack of self-interest; we also have sentiments for our impartial sentiments this is the foundation of morality.
Hume’s first argument against the rationalists is the argument of motivation. This argument being that moral judgments can motivate us, and rational judgments can’t, therefore moral judgments are not rational judgments. Hume states that reason can’t motivate because reason only creates relations between ideas. Through this he renounces Externalism, which is the belief that morality needs to be supported by law, and/or divine punishment; and the idea of the separation or differentiation of judging something to be right, and the motivation required to do something right. He instead embraces Internalism, that is the belief that moral judgments motivate, and that anyone that makes a moral judgment recognizes certain motivations for acting on it.
Hume’s second argument is the argument of truth and falsehood. This states that reason is a matter of true and false, where morality isn’t. He goes on to argue that it is impossible for actions to be true or false as they are actions, they can however be good or evil; therefore good and evil does not equal true and false, thus reason does not equal morality. He goes on to say that we can be motivated to do something because it is good, but truth and reason cannot be motivators.
His third argument is the argument of the impossibility of basing moral judgment on relations of ideas or matters of fact. Right and wrong are not and cannot be matters of fact. Instead Hume says we must know all the facts prior to making