Question 1

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Question 1

Post by Admin on Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:52 pm

1. What does Hume mean by “vicious” when he says “the willful murder is vicious”? What are the advantages of this view, of this way of understanding moral predicates? What is the biggest difficulty with this approach?

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Re: Question 1

Post by Admin on Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:24 pm

When he says "the willful murder is vicious", Hume argues that the moral judgement of the act as "vicious" does not exist in the facts of the action. For example, although there exists a knife, a pool of blood, and a rotting corpse, there is no "viciousness" outside of the individual's reactions to the facts. This thought experiment shows that moral predicates are not contained in facts of the world but, rather, are projections of people's internal reactions to the facts.

This has some advantages. It accounts for morality being distinctively human. If moral predicates were a fact that existed in the world, trees and other animals would be held to the same moral relations that people are. However, it seems absurd to think that a tree can act 'good' or 'bad'.

However, there is a difficulty with this approach. The word 'murder', which is used by Hume to describe a fact, is itself a moral judgment. 'A caused B's death' is a fact, but murder is an evaluative term which deems an murder unjustified. This contradicts Hume's theory that fact and value judgments are entirely separate from each other. In order for someone to evaluate something as a murder, they must do so in reference to both their beliefs about what acts are justified or not and the facts of the act.

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