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Hume Studies Volume XX, Number 2, November 1994, pp. 211-218 Symposium A version of this paper was presented at the symposium on A Progress of Sentiments by Annette C. Baier, held at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association, Los Angeles, March 1994. Response to My Critics ANNETTE C. BAIER I thank my critics for their generous compliments on what they find good about my book, and thank them even more for their criticisms. Both my critics query the role given to reason, in my version of Hume's version of our nature. If David Owen is right, I downplay Hume's scepticism, in Treatise Book I, about what we can expect of what he there calls our reason, and, if Rachel Cohon is right, I downplay Hume's scepticism in Books II and III about the role of reason in our passionate and active lives. Cohon even charges that my Hume is barely distinguishable from Samuel Clarke. Grave charges! In response, I want first to concede that in A Progress of Sentiments I should have given more space to the section "Of scepticism with regard to reason" than I did, and that, even though I did not purport to more than touch on Hume's attitude to other philosophers, I should have more explicitly acknowledged the background role of Clarke as Hume's target, throughout the Treatise, and given more emphasis to Hume's anti-religious aims, which I mention from time to time, but do not dwell on. I could also have given more prominence to Hume's treatment of liberty and necessity, and have said a bit more about Hume's section, "Morality not based on reason." As Rachel Cohon says, I dismiss what, for some, is the distinctively Humean claim that morals excite passions and produce or prevent actions as largely an ad hominem move against rationalists who expect their pronouncements about eternal fitnesses, or divine commands, to produce or prevent actions, possibly by exciting fear of divine punishment. The Humean moral sentiment, I claimed, is not an Annette C. Baier is at the Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA 15260 USA. 212 Annette C. Baier especially motivating passion, although it does normally produce good will towards those whose character traits it approves, and some dislike of those whose character traits are disapproved. So it may excite some self-dislike, when it is our own character that we find distasteful, or produce some pride, if we pass muster. Hume writes: "There may perhaps, be some, who being accustom 'd to the style of the schools and pulpit, and having never consider'd human nature in any other light than that in which they place it, may here be surpriz'd to hear me talk of virtue as exciting pride, which they look on as a vice ..." (T 297). So Humean morals does often excite passions. But pride and humility, Hume claims, are "compleat in themselves," not "attended with any desire" (T 367), so are not directly motivating passions. And even the love and hatred that are felt towards fellow persons for their virtues and vices may, as motivating influences on the will, have to compete with other loves, such as esteem for the rich and powerful. Hume is a realistic and often rather cynical moralist, and has no easy story about how the moral sentiment can produce the virtues of which it approves. Still, there is some active power in the moral sentiment. It is an impression, namely a sentiment or "peculiar pleasure," not an idea, and so not a belief. In my book I first contrasted Humean sentiments with beliefs in Chapter 1, discussing the conclusion of Book I, and then continued to discuss passions in Chapter 2, on association. There it is said plainly enough that, for Hume, it is pleasure and pain on which most of our passions are founded. (He exempts some instinctive desires.) His own decision to continue with his philosophical journey, after the near shipwreck of Part 4 of Book I, is based, he claims, on the fact that he would be the loser in point of pleasure if he inhibited his philosophical impulses. But...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 211-218
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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