Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Eric Wilson

Second Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Third Advisor

Christie Hartley

Abstract

In A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume argues that moral judgments are the product of sentiment. The mechanism of sympathy allows individuals to enter into a common point of view in order to produce judgments that are truly moral, and not merely self-interested. Hume argues that the common point of view is the standard that moral judgments are subjected to. I argue that the common point of view is an inadequate standard for distinguishing between proper and improper moral judgments. The common point of view is inadequate because it is subjective and unreflective. In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith offers an account of moral judgment that has an adequate standard for distinguishing between proper and improper moral judgments. Smith avoids the problems with Hume’s account due to his distinction between partial and impartial spectators and the role that self-command plays in his theory of moral judgment.

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