Hume’s Law Violated?

Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (3):449-455 (2014)

Rik Peels
VU University Amsterdam
Introduction: Prinz’s SentimentalismMany ethicists claim that one cannot derive an ought from an is. In others words, they think that one cannot derive a statement that has prescriptive force from purely descriptive statements. This thesis plays a crucial role in many theoretical and practical ethical arguments. Since, according to many, David Hume advocated a view along these lines, this thesis has been called ‘Hume’s Law’. In this paper, I adopt this widespread terminology, whether or not Hume did indeed take this position. There are some notable exceptions among philosophers, such as John SearleSee John R. Searle, “How to Derive “Ought” from “Is”,” Philosophical Review, Vol. 73, No. 1, (1964), pp. 43–58. and Arthur Prior,See Arthur N. Prior, “The Autonomy of Ethics,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 38, No. 3, (1960), pp. 199–206. but most philosophers have embraced Hume’s Law. Recently, however, Hume’s Law has come under attack. In his book The Emotional Construction of Mor
Keywords Hume, David  'Ought' implies 'Can'  Obligation  Prinz, Jesse  Sentimentalism
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-014-9439-8
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