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Moral sense theories

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L061-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

In Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes argued that since good and evil are naturally relative to each individual’s private appetites, and man’s nature is predominantly selfish, then morality must be grounded in human conventions. His views provoked strong reactions among British moral philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Moral sense theories comprise one set of responses. A moral sense theory gives a central role to the affections and sentiments in moral perception, in the appraisal of conduct and character, and in deliberation and motivation. Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson argued that we have a unique faculty of moral perception, the moral sense. David Hume and Adam Smith held that we cultivate a moral sensibility when we appropriately regulate our sympathy by an experience-informed reason and reflection.

Citing this article:
Taylor, Jacqueline. Moral sense theories, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L061-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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