Volume 41, Issue 2, November 2015
Without Gallantry and Without Jealousy
The Development of Hume’s Account of Sexual Virtues and Vices
In this paper I argue that Hume’s thought on comportment between the sexes developed over time. In the Treatise he was interested in explaining why the world seeks to impose artificial virtues of chastity and modesty on women and girls, and how it manages to do this so successfully. But as time passed he became increasingly concerned with justice towards women and the role of free interactions between the sexes in facilitating sociability. While his later work continues to explain the origin of the artificial female virtues of chastity and modesty in the way he had in the Treatise, it also recognizes and condemns proprietary attitudes towards women and surveys various ways of achieving a balance between male jealousy and sociability. It concludes by condemning the male vices of jealousy and “gallantry” while suggesting that the emphasis on female chastity and modesty is excessive.