P 340: Essay Topics for Hume Essay
1. Discuss the form(s) of “sympathy” found in Book II of the Treatise. What is the difference between the ‘principle’ of sympathy, and ‘sympathy’ as an imaginative exercise? What does sympathy give Hume, in terms of the explanatory force of his philosophical psychology? Why, according to Hume, is sympathy commonly “highly variable”? Why is “extensive sympathy”—which gives rise to moral approbation and disapprobation—not variable in this problematic way, according to Hume?
2. What is Hume’s criteria of virtue and in what ways does Hume’s account of how we go about making moral evaluations seem appropriate, or not, to his criteria of virtue? In what way(s) might one object to Hume’s criteria of virtue? How might Hume respond to those objections?
3. Does Hume’s account of ethical normativity (his answer to the normative question) pass the transparency test? Why or why not? What is one aspect of Hume’s account of ethical normativity that you find appealing, and why? What is one aspect of Hume’s account of ethical normativity that you find problematic, and why?