Annette Baier was the dean of contemporary Hume studies and one of the most insightful and influential philosophers writing on Hume. Since the late 1970s, her writings and the example of her distinctive mode of scholarship have inspired generations of scholars to look with fresh eyes at Hume's work. The special turn of her philosophical mind and personal style of writing are especially well-suited to uncover, appreciate, and effectively communicate the rich, nuanced, and humane dimensions of Hume's moral philosophy. Her (...) masterpiece, A Progress of Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), for example, taught us that Hume's moral psychology underwrites his moral and social philosophy. The Cautious .. (shrink)
The thesis of this essay is that social conventions of the kind Lewis modeled are generated and maintained by a form of practical reasoning which is essentially common. This thesis is defended indirectly by arguing for an interpretation of the role of salience in Lewis’s account of conventions. The remarkable ability of people to identify salient options and appreciate their practical significance in contexts of social interaction, it is argued, is best explained in terms of their exercise of what I (...) call “salience reasoning,” a form of common practical reasoning. The more widely accepted understanding of salience competence, the “natural salience” understanding, fails as an interpretation of the notion at work in Lewis and Schelling (on whom Lewis relied) and is inadequate as an explanation of salience competence. (shrink)
The basic concept of Bentham's moral and political philosophy was public utility. He linked it directly with the concept of the universal interest, which comprises a distinctive partnership of the interests of all members of the community. The ultimate end of government and aim of all of morality is ‘the advancement of the universal interest’. This essay articulates the structure of Bentham's notion of universal interest and locates it in his theory of value.
Hume’s account of the roots of justice focuses on the need to secure possession against the corrosive effects of unrestrained avidity. The reasons for this focus lie deep in his understanding of human psychology, especially, the mimetic passions shaped by the principles of sympathy, social referencing, and reversal comparison. The need for esteem drives human beings to attach their pride to those things they think are especially valued by those whom they especially admire. Most predominant among these goods are riches (...) and possessions. Intense competition for these scarce goods puts the material and psychological survival of all in jeopardy. Conventions of justice are needed to civilize and channel avidity, transforming it from open and deadly violence and secret envy and malice into productive and public emulation. (shrink)
The key to unlocking the mystery of human passions, according to Hume, lay in the interaction between two fundamental psychological mechanisms or principles: sympathy and comparison. Both our sociality and our asociality find their psychic origins in the complex interaction of these principles. Due to the operation of these principles, justice is necessary for social life. It channels and controls the passions in contexts of social interaction; they in turn generate resources from which the structures of justice and the foundations (...) of political society can be built by intelligent and sympathetic human beings. This essay explores Hume’s account of sympathy and comparison and some of the passions they generate, in the hope of gaining a better understanding of his unsentimental and unblinkered view of our social asociality. (shrink)
When accidents occur and people suffer injuries, who ought to bear the loss? Tort law offers a complex set of rules to answer this question, but up to now philosophers have offered little by way of analysis of these rules. In eight essays commissioned for this volume, leading legal theorists examine the philosophical foundations of tort law. Amongst the questions they address are the following: how are the notions at the core of tort practice (such as responsibility, fault, negligence, due (...) care, and duty to repair) to be understood? Is an explanation based on a conception of justice feasible? How are concerns of distributive and corrective justice related? What amounts to an adequate explanation of tort law? This collection will be of interest to professionals and advanced students working in philosophy of law, social theory, political theory, and law, as well as anyone seeking a better understanding of tort law. (shrink)
Rosen argues that Bentham's utilitarian doctrine was sensitive to distributive concerns and would not countenance sacrifice of fundamental individual interests for aggregate gains in happiness in society. This essay seeks to extend and deepen Rosen's argument. It is argued that Bentham's equality-sensitive principle of utility is an expression of an individualist conception of human happiness which contrasts sharply with the orthodox utilitarian abstract conception. Evidence for this interpretation of the basic motivation of Bentham's doctrine is drawn from his view of (...) the relationship between happiness and expectations, from various expressions of his formula, and from his reformulations of the principle of utility itself late in his career. (shrink)
This book offers a philosophical interpretation of the historical debate between Bentham and classical Common Law Theory, a debate that is fundamental to philosophical thought and has shaped contemporary conceptions of nature, tasks, and limits of law and adjudication. The author explores the philosophical foundations of Common Law theory, focusing particularly on the writings of Sir Mathew Hale and David Hume.