Hume Studies 31 (1):93-122 (2005)

Margaret Watkins
Saint Vincent College
Some scholars have recently found commonalities between Hume's motivational psychology and Kantian understandings of reason and obligation. Although this trend corrects certain misreadings of Hume, it goes too far in other respects. This essay argues that we can understand Hume's explanation of the artificial virtue of justice in a way that avoids such mistakes. I begin by considering Stephen Darwall's argument that features of Hume's account of justice reveal an inadequacy in the empirical naturalist tradition and underlying commitments to the proto-Kantian tradition. I argue that a broader understanding of Hume's ethics and reinterpreting crucial passages dissolve Darwall's 'puzzles' about Humean justice. I defend Hume against the charge of inconsistency by suggesting an alternative interpretation of his theory of the will and his arguments about the justice's development as a virtue. Finally, I argue that Hume's theory of the will can consistently account for motives to Humean justice, properly understood.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
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Reprint years 2005
ISBN(s) 0319-7336
DOI 10.1353/hms.2011.0202
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