Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Hume in Applied Ethics Courses




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



The ethical theories commonly used in an applied ethics course and in many standard applied ethics texts are Aristotle's virtue approach, Kant's deontology, and Mill's consequentialism. In my paper I make a case for Dad Hume's theory on moral sentiments to be taught. I acknowledge that doing a short piece on Hume is not easy but I offer a way to do just that, add a little Hume. There are good reasons for doing this as I will explain. For one thing, Hume's theory includes a claim that each person has a moral sense making faculty. I have found students to be empowered by this and they can become more self-aware of how they do that and accept their responsibility for responding morally and more confident in their own ethical analysis. This kind of empowerment is important especially in the professions as the professional can only act responsibly when he/she is confident in the moral stance they may have to take. Also Hume's claim that our moral evaluations involve three natural concerns, two we are born with caring for ourselves and caring for others and a third concern that we develop soon after birh for our society are easy for students to see in their own lives. So this combines with the understanding that we make moral evaluations in our own moral making faculty and gives students a sense of individual responsibility and confidence to act and respond morally in their lives and their professions.

Conference Name

13th Conference for Ethics across the Curriculum

Conference Location

St. Louis, MO

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