Date of Award

8-2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Eric E. Wilson

Second Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Abstract

Hume believes it is common and natural for people to have preferences for character traits similar to their own, but he remains silent on how to separate the innocent preferences from the blameworthy ones. This paper looks to Hume's morality to answer this question, ultimately arguing for two jointly sufficient criteria: 1) a preference is innocent so long as it doesn’t prevent one from adopting the general point of view and 2) a preference is innocent so long as it is not met with disapproval from a spectator viewing it from the general point of view. I argue that these criteria leave most preferences unscathed, and this result highlights a distinctive pluralism in Hume. I consider the ramifications for this pluralism and argue that it gives Hume’s morality an appeal over more rigid moral theories. I conclude by considering the challenge of factionalism that arises from my interpretation.

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