David Hume and The Problem of Reason: Recovering the Human by Robert M. Danford

By Robert M. Danford

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Learning how to confront those, we emerge into relative daylight, able finally to give a satisfactory account of moral thought, its credentials, its scope, and its limits. : Stanford University Press, 1994). ' 'You are Mistaken, Child,' replied she; 'the welfare of every Nation depends upon the virtue of its individuals, and any one who offends in so gross a manner against decorum and propriety is certainly hastening its ruin . . ' Jane Austen, Catharine 1— Virtues, Ends, Duties Our aim is to understand our capacities for ethics, and more widely, for practical reasoning in general.

A great deal of popular moralizing consists in rumination on the advantages of virtue and the disadvantages of vice: the oneand-a-half million purchasers of William Bennett's collection, The Book of Virtues, are simply following a tradition which is equally visible in medieval wall-paintings, illuminating the contrast between the paths of virtue and those of sin, and in innumerable sermons, fables, and novels before, in between, and after. Hume describes this species of 'easy and obvious' philosophers as follows: As virtue, of all objects, is allowed to be the most valuable, this species of philosophers paint her in the most amiable colours; borrowing all helps from poetry and eloquence, and treating their subject in an easy and obvious manner, and such as is best fitted to please the imagination, and engage the affections.

Eudaimonia consists in living virtuously. It is not simply that virtue is a way to buy happiness, thought of as an independent state that might, in principle, be secured by other means. Rather, true well-being involves the exercise of virtue, in the way that true health, one might say, involves physical exercise. If you are truly healthy you want and enjoy physical activity. 9 8 David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, 1st edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1888), III. iii.

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