Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, 1988/1989

Sheldon Wein
Pages 229-236

Humean Minds and Moral Theory

Grant that Hume is a contractarian. Justice then arises from more basic features of humans and their circumstances. Among these more basic features from which justice arises Hume includes (in addition to self-interest narrowly construed) the widely held passions of benevolence and sympathy. But it is mysterious why he included them in his contractarian theory for the derivation of justice does not need them, and may even be weaker with them included. This paper suggests that Hume’s philosophy of mind, in particular his account of the imagination, forced him to include benevolence and sympathy along with self-interest as the passions on which justice is based.