Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility

New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press (1995)
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In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of a compatibilist position--that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments such as responsibility, and Russell argues that his conception of free will must be interprted within this naturalistic framework. He goes on to discuss Hume's views about the nature and character of moral sentiment; the extent to which we have control over our moral character; and the justification of punishment. Throughout, Russell argues that the naturalistic avenue of interpretation of Hume's thought, far from draining it of its contemporary interest and significance, reveals it to be of great relevance to the ongoing contemporary debate - particuarly in relation to the views of P.F. Strawson and his influential paper "Freedom and Resentment".


Responsibility Naturalized: A Qualified Defence of Hume

This chapter provides a qualified defense of Hume's naturalistic approach to the problem of free will and moral responsibility. A particularly important theme is the contrast between Hume's naturalistic approach and the “rationalistic” approach associated with classical compatibilism. Wher... see more


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Author's Profile

Paul Russell
Lund University

Citations of this work

The Limits of Free Will: Selected Essays.Paul Russell - 2017 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Compatibilism.Michael McKenna - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
From relational equality to personal responsibility.Andreas T. Schmidt - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (4):1373-1399.

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