chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology: An Overview
WithPhilip A. Reed

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores David Hume’s admission to suffering early in his life from what he describes as a “disease of the learned.” It argues that Hume, unlike Aristotle, has a thin notion of virtue such that virtue is neither expected to exhibit consistency across different situations nor is a specific virtue expected to exhibit a principal connection to any other part of the person’s character. The book focuses on the question of whether autistic individuals, who are purportedly unable to empathize, are thus prohibited from making moral judgments under Hume’s well-known assumption that sympathy has significant responsibility for such judgments. It proposes that Hume’s acknowledgments of certain limits of the method of inquiry he pursues in the Treatise reveal that he includes a central place for third person observation.