chapter  12
24 Pages

Hume on Moral Motivation

WithMichael B. Gill

Hume recognizes that there are different types of human motivation that play a role in the moral life. When Hume argues at T 3.1.1.5–6 that morality does not originate in reason alone by citing morality’s motivational influence, he is relying only on the motivational influence of explicitly moral thoughts. This narrow focus is appropriate because at T 3.1.1.5–6 he is arguing against rationalist claims about the nature of explicitly moral thoughts. But in his own positive account, Hume explicates several other motives, such as: the motives of others we approve of that do not involve explicitly moral thoughts, the motives we develop when we approve of others, and the motives we have to garner others’ approval of ourselves. Recent empirical work in moral psychology supports much of what Hume says about moral motivation.