Hume and the Prince of Thieves

Hume Studies 34 (1):3-19 (2008)
Abstract
Hume’s readers love to hate the Sensible Knave. But hating the Knave is like hating a messenger with bad tidings. The message is that there is a gap, on Hume’s account, between our motivations and our obligations to just action. But it isn’t the Knave’s character that is to blame, for the same gap will be found if we turn our attention to alter egos, such as Robin Hood, the benevolent “Prince of Thieves.” Replacing self-interest with benevolence not only does not make the gap go away, it makes it harder to bridge. Of thetwo, it is benevolence, not self-interest, that actually poses the more serous challenge to Hume’s account of justice
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