Recasting Scottish Sentimentalism: The Peculiarity of Moral Approval

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 10 (1):91-115 (2012)
By founding morality on the particular sentiments of approbation and disapprobation, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith implied that the nature of moral judgment was far more intuitive and accessible than their rationalist predecessors and contemporaries would, or at least easily could, allow. And yet, these ‘Sentimentalists’ faced the longstanding belief that the human affective psyche is a veritable labyrinth – an obstacle to practical morality if not something literally brutish in us. The Scottish Sentimentalists thus implicitly tasked themselves with distinguishing and locating the particular sentiments of approbation and disapprobation in the human psyche. In this paper, I argue that this task led Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith to adopt a remarkable thesis when it came to the nature of the moral sentiments, namely, that the sentiments of moral approbation and disapprobation are peculiar – somehow radically unlike other sentiments
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Kate Abramson (2001). Sympathy and the Project of Hume's Second Enquiry. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 83 (1):45-80.
Simon Blackburn (1988). How to Be an Ethical Antirealist. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12 (1):361-375.

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