One would hardly be a human being if the good of others, or of society at large, could not weigh with one as a cogent reason for doing what will promote goodness. So one has not fully learned about living like a rational and moral being unless one has learned to appreciate that one ought to do things out of regard for others, and not only out of regard for oneself. In the first place, not everything done for oneself is (...) done for reasons of prudence. That one ought to insure one's house, save for one's old age, not put all one's money into one venture, are precepts of prudence. But it is not a precept of prudence, though it may be a good precept that someone ought to undergo a dangerous operation as a long shot to restoring his health rather than linger under a disability forever after. (shrink)
Offers a reading of philosopher David Hume regarding his views on practical reason. Arguments of Hume for his conception of practical reason; View of Hume on the influencing motives of the will; Approach of Hume on the standards of practical reasoning.
Butler observes in the Preface to the Sermons that the subject of morals can be approached in two different ways: “One begins from enquiring into the abstract relations of things: the other from a matter of fact, namely what the particular nature of man is, its several parts, their economy or constitution; from whence it proceeds to determine what course of life it is, which is correspondent to his whole nature. In the former method the conclusion is expressed thus, that (...) vice is contrary to the nature and reason of things: in the latter, that it is a violation or breaking in upon our own nature. Thus they both lead us to the same thing, our obligations to the practice of virtue; and thus they exceedingly strengthen and enforce each other.” In making this observation Butler raises the problem of the nature of moral obligation, and of the criteria by which the existence of a moral obligation can be known. He does so by calling attention to the divisions of opinion which existed on this issue in his own days. Samuel Clarke, the fashionable moralist of the period, sought the roots of moral obligation in the “nature and reason of things”: for an agent to know that an act is his duty is to know that it is fitting or suitable to the circumstances in which it occurs . Shaftesbury, on the other hand, and many of the adherents to the doctrine of Natural Law, like Grotius and Pufendorf, sought the roots of moral obligation in the nature of agents: for an agent, to know that an act is his duty is for him to experience a special motive to do it . Butler recognized the fundamental difference between these two approaches. (shrink)
You have invited me to speak about Morals without Faith . Briefly, I take it, this question means: is there any moral law for agnostics? But it might be more interesting to put it rather differently: to ask, not simply whether there is a moral law for those who do not believe in God, but whether there is any such law even for those who do independent of their belief? We are then asking: Does being under a moral law mean (...) nothing more than being commanded by God? Is the only incentive for obeying it in our love or fear of Him, the only criterion by which to judge the morality of actions in their conformity to a revealed standard? Or would it be more true to say that the law which God wishes us to obey is that law to which we ought to conform because it corresponds to our nature and conditions in this world, a law which, apart from being God's will, we can understand as being indispensable to the kind of beings we are? (shrink)
The issue of whether emotions are rational is at the centre of philosophical and psychological discussions. I believe that emotions are rational, but that they follow different principles to those of intellectual reasoning. The purpose of this paper is to reveal the unique logic of emotions. I begin by suggesting that we should conceive of emotions as a general mode of the mental system; other modes are the perceptual and intellectual modes. One feature distinguishing one mode from another is the (...) logical principles underlying its information processing mechanism. Before describing these principles, I clarify the notion of ‘rationality,’ arguing that in an important sense emotions can be rational. (shrink)