Hume vs. Kant on moral theory

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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 12:26 pm
Hello everybody, I'm going to write a paper comparing two philosophers moral theory and decided to choose Kant and Hume. While I'm closer to Hume's theory myself I could certainly use some different perspectives,

So I thought I'll ask you guys whose theory you prefer yourself and why?
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 01:27 pm
@Jacob phil,
Jacob;59243 wrote:
Hello everybody, I'm going to write a paper comparing two philosophers moral theory and decided to choose Kant and Hume. While I'm closer to Hume's theory myself I could certainly use some different perspectives,

So I thought I'll ask you guys whose theory you prefer yourself and why?


I prefer Kant. I largely agree that actions are morally right or wrong by themselves, not by their consequences. However I don't agree with Kant's moral absolutism.
Such as in Kant's example, that it is always wrong to lie, even if a murderer is asking for the location of a potential victim. Telling a murderer the location of the victim is also an action, one that is more wrong than lying to a murderer.
Hume has a more realistic - and easy to follow - approach. Yet I largely disagree.

Feel free to ask questions or poke holes.
 
Miles phil
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 02:48 pm
@Jacob phil,
Hi, I'm a young budding philosopher hoping to learn alot from being on this forum, so I've joined this discussion to learn something new.

I find this "moral absolution" interesting. My initial take on it is; that what is "right" and "just" must be complicit with one's previous unconscious/conscious beliefs, particularly regarding loyalties to concepts both physical and metaphysical.

Let me explain with an illustration - If a foreign country X was known to be plotting a severe nuclear attack on country Y (and Y was plotting a similarly devastating attack on X, per Cold War) then "morality" says that;
a) it would be right to disable both plots
b) it would be right to disable X's plot
c) it would be right to disable Y's plot
depending on which side you were on. I know that it initially seems obvious that one should disable both plots in order to create peace, but what if you were a total patriot of country X (such as Socrates was of Athens) then surely it would only be moral to disable Y's plot. Have a think about it, as I'm only offering this up as an idea/response, and it is by no means perfect...

I think this lies in concurrence with Mark's opinion, but I'm not entirely sure. What do you think about all of this?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 3 Oct, 2009 02:55 am
@Miles phil,
Miles;94632 wrote:
Hi, I'm a young budding philosopher hoping to learn alot from being on this forum, so I've joined this discussion to learn something new.

I find this "moral absolution" interesting. My initial take on it is; that what is "right" and "just" must be complicit with one's previous unconscious/conscious beliefs, particularly regarding loyalties to concepts both physical and metaphysical.

Let me explain with an illustration - If a foreign country X was known to be plotting a severe nuclear attack on country Y (and Y was plotting a similarly devastating attack on X, per Cold War) then "morality" says that;
a) it would be right to disable both plots
b) it would be right to disable X's plot
c) it would be right to disable Y's plot
depending on which side you were on. I know that it initially seems obvious that one should disable both plots in order to create peace, but what if you were a total patriot of country X (such as Socrates was of Athens) then surely it would only be moral to disable Y's plot. Have a think about it, as I'm only offering this up as an idea/response, and it is by no means perfect...

I think this lies in concurrence with Mark's opinion, but I'm not entirely sure. What do you think about all of this?


But isn't there a difference between what someone thinks is moral, and what is (actually) moral. A person's moral beliefs are certainly influenced by, unconscious/conscious beliefs, particularly regarding loyalties to concepts both physical and metaphysical. But why must the person's moral beliefs be true? After all Hitler's moral beliefs were, no doubt, influenced by his, unconscious/conscious beliefs, particularly regarding loyalties to concepts both physical and metaphysical. But so what? Not everything we believe is true.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 3 Oct, 2009 05:49 pm
@Jacob phil,
IT has been suggested that

Kant based his moral theory on reason and thus "the categorical imperative"
"act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law"

Hume on the other hand based his moral theory on emotion or subjective response to action.
"reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions"
"we cannot derive ought from is....statements of moral obligation can not be deduced from statements of fact"
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2009 03:04 pm
@prothero,
prothero;94949 wrote:
IT has been suggested that

Kant based his moral theory on reason and thus "the categorical imperative"
"act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law"

Hume on the other hand based his moral theory on emotion or subjective response to action.
"reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions"
"we cannot derive ought from is....statements of moral obligation can not be deduced from statements of fact"


I do not believe your second quote of Hume is genuine. If I am mistaken, please tell me where it is that Hume said that.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2009 04:00 pm
@Jacob phil,
The famous passage is:

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.
 
Emil
 
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2009 04:12 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114982 wrote:
The famous passage is:

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.


Yes. I was looking for that passage but couldn't find it. It should be listed on Wikiquote, but it isn't. Do you have a precise cite?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2009 04:30 pm
@Emil,
Emil;114987 wrote:
Yes. I was looking for that passage but couldn't find it. It should be listed on Wikiquote, but it isn't. Do you have a precise cite?


^ Hume, David (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: John Noon. p. 469. A Treatise of Human Nature - Google Books. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2009 05:01 pm
@Emil,
Emil;114987 wrote:
Yes. I was looking for that passage but couldn't find it. It should be listed on Wikiquote, but it isn't. Do you have a precise cite?


It is in the last paragraph of Book III, Part I, Section I, of A Treatise of Human Nature. But, the words in quotes presented by prothero are not contained there.

---------- Post added 12-28-2009 at 06:08 PM ----------

kennethamy;114982 wrote:
The famous passage is:

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.


Yes, that is the famous passage, but if you will observe, the quoted remark presented by prothero is not contained there.
 
 

 
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