The role of Human nature in hume's ethics

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2008


Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


This dissertation aims to determine the role of human nature in Hume's philosophy. It will examine how moral motivation arises when one takes human nature as the basis of moral philosophyWhat is maintained here is that Hume approaches his rival rationalist philosophers whom he criticised for drawing on metaphysics and rational methods in building the foundation of their ethics. Hume’s “science of man” attempts to isolate the basis of ethics from metaphysical and rational elements. However, this paper demonstrates that in doing so, Hume actually resorts to reason. Further, certain inconsistencies in Hume’s argument can only be resolved by recourse to metaphysics. To make this clear I examine how the passions that Hume puts forward as the basis of human nature cause sympathy and build a sense of morality. Since the most basic feature of human nature exists within the concept of “being-human”, the necessity of metaphysical and ontological explanations will be shown. Hume’s position on the goodness or wickedness of human nature is examined. As a result, the purpose of this research is to show that it is not possible to isolate ethics from metaphysical elements by constructing a science based on Newtonian methods.