RQ13-HumeanEthics-Clark

RQ13-HumeanEthics-Clark - Reading Questions #13 Note: for...

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Reading Questions #13 Note: for your convenience, questions will reference paragraph numbers of the treatise found in the margins of your reading. Book II, Part III, Section III 1. What is the context that Hume expresses as the background to the thesis he will argue for? What theses does he take himself to be responding to and what theses does he say he will argue for? (¶1) He takes as his context moral philosophy up to that point, ancient and modern. The main theses that he aims to counter is that reason is primary over the passions, that it is greater and to be obeyed rather than the passions. He says he will argue for two theses: (1) that reason alone cannot bring about action and (2) that reason alone cannot oppose action. 2. What two powers or operations does the understanding have? Try to give an example of each. Why do neither one of these involve a cause of any action? Hume says, “Abstract or demonstrative reasoning, therefore, never influences any of our actions, but only as directs our judgment concerning causes and effects, which leads to the second operation of the understanding.” Explain. (¶2) The understanding has two powers. (1) to make judgments of fact from demonstrations or probabilities and (2) to make judgments about the relations of ideas or the objects about which we have information. Both powers of the operation are merely informational—they regard only ‘the world of ideas’ and it is the will that places us in the ‘realities.’ We might desire to know some cause or effect, but the power of the understanding is merely to judge about facts or notice the relations of things, so as to accurately inform us of facts about causes and effects. 3. According to Hume, what is the source of impulse, and what is the role of reason in action? (¶3) The impulses are emotions of attraction and aversion we find within ourselves, which extend to objects. The role of reason is just to discover and represent the relations between things which already affect us by being objects of attraction or aversion. 4. Hume says (famously), “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” What does he mean and how does he arrive at this conclusion? (¶4) Reason cannot cause any sort of attraction or aversion, but these exist independent of reason. Reason can, however, supply the judgments about how to satisfy our attractions or aversions. Therefore, reason serves the passions, and can do nothing else.
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5. Passion contains no ‘representative quality’ whereas ideas do. What does this mean and how is this key to Hume’s argument that a passion cannot contradict or oppose reason, and that, therefore, they cannot “dispute for the government of the will and actions”? (¶¶5-7)
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2012 for the course PHIL 203 taught by Professor Errinclark during the Fall '11 term at MO St. Louis.

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RQ13-HumeanEthics-Clark - Reading Questions #13 Note: for...

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