Using Benevolent Affections to Learn Our Duty

Mind 127 (506):467-489 (2018)
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The puzzle is this: I argue that for Reid, moral sense needs benevolent affections – i.e. some of our animal, non-cognitive principles of action – to apply the rules of duty. But he also thinks that duty can conflict with benevolent affections. So what happens in these conflict cases? I will argue that Reid takes moral psychology seriously and that he believes that our natural benevolent affections can be used as indicators of duty. Although creative, his account has a major problem, because he does not resolve certain conflicts that arise between what action a duty prescribes and what action a natural affection, associated to that duty, inclines us to do.



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M. Folescu
University of Missouri, Columbia

Citations of this work

The Active Powers of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - 2023 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume II: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 255–292.
Reid on Moral Sentimentalism.Camil Golub - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):431-444.

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References found in this work

Practical philosophy.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
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Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1979 - In Roger Crisp & Michael Slote (eds.), Virtue Ethics. Oxford University Press.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith.Adam Smith - 1976 - Indianapolis: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by D. D. Raphael & A. L. Macfie.
On the value of acting from the motive of duty.Barbara Herman - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):359-382.

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