Part I History of Ethics
Life of Socrates
Part II Concepts and Problems
Normative Ethics and Applied Ethics
Part III Applied Ethics
Field of Applied Ethics
David Hume (1711 - 1776)
David Hume is most often cited as a radical empiricist whose reflections on the nature of knowledge led him to a skeptical stance in regard to our knowledge of the external world and, most famously, the Law of Causality (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748). In matters of religion, he offered devastating criticisms of the Argument from Design and said reason was incapable of moving from the facts of the world to the existence of God (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, 1779). But when it came to the sphere of ethics, this Scottish philosopher displayed a remarkable sympathy with those who spoke with common sense of our basic ideas of right and wrong, virtue and vice (Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, 1751). Hume rejects Hobbes' moral psychology and reminds us of the everyday way in which we approve or disapprove of those who exhibit virtuous or vicious lives. He views his appeal to "uniform experience and observation" as scientific in the manner of Bacon and Newton.
See Hume's example of Personal Merit.
See David Norton's discussion of Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. See also excerpts from the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Hume.
More information on Hume can be found on the Hume Archive Page.