Hume Essay.wps

Hume Essay.wps - Humes Sympathetic Justice In David Humes A...

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-1 Hume’s Sympathetic Justice 1 In David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature , he deals with many different aspects of human morality. One of the topics on which he spends a great deal of time is the virtue of justice. It is clear from the extensive length and detail in which Hume discusses justice that he thinks it is a very important issue. In this essay I will present Hume’s account of the origin of justice, focussing especially on the role he believes sympathy plays. I will discuss how and why Hume believes the notion of justice came about, briefly touching upon the nature of justice. Following that I will then explain how for Hume sympathy does not only play a key role in the virtue of justice, but in all other virtues as well. Necessary for this explanation is a description of the other types of virtues, including the way in which Hume categorizes them. Thirdly I will develop a critique of the role Hume believes sympathy plays in the origin of the other virtues, through the discussion of the nature and origin of sympathy itself. In short, this essay will cover three main concepts: Hume’s account of the origin of justice with special focus on sympathy, sympathy’s role in the development of the virtues other than justice, and a critical insight into the nature and origin of sympathy. The beginning of Hume’s discussion of justice deals with its very origin and then leads into the role that sympathy plays in this virtue. He begins his description of justice by asserting that it is not a natural virtue, but rather it produces approbation, “…by means of an artifice or contrivance, which arises from the circumstances and necessities of mankind,” (307, 1). Following this statement Hume goes on to give his account of what the circumstances and necessities were that resulted in the virtue of justice. He begins by saying that of all the animals, nature seems to have given man the most wants and necessities, and at the same time the most “slender” means by which we may relieve these necessities (311, 2). Mankind must therefore come up with some sort of remedy to this situation if we are to
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2 survive. Hume states clearly that he believes this remedy is the formation of society, writing, “ ’Tis by society alone [Mankind] is able to supply his defects…” (312, 3). According to Hume, however, although the formation of society is highly advantageous, it also has its dangers. Hume uses the example that once a society is formed, and goods are easily procured, “…the principal disturbance in society arises from these goods…and from their
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Hume Essay.wps - Humes Sympathetic Justice In David Humes A...

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