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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a description of the general character of Hume's ethics, which are Epicurean in that he assumes that pleasure is good, and every good thing is pleasing. All virtues, for him, are ‘agreeable or useful’ to their possessor or to others, and the useful is defined as what can be expected to yield future pleasure. The discussion then covers Hume's views on sympathy and the principles governing our approbations; trust and its enlargement by social ‘artifices’; natural virtues, natural duties, and what they include and exclude; responsibility; the role of reason; rights; and his influence on subsequent moral philosophers.

Keywords: ethical theory, Epicurean, pleasure, good, virtues, sympathy, trust, responsibility, rights, reason

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