A Contextualization of the Classic Moral Sentimentalism
Keywords:Sentimentalism; rationalism; emotions; motivations; morality;
Moral sentimentalism can be defined as the philosophical theory according to which emotions are the source of our value judgements, in general, and of our moral judgements, in particular. It follows that, from a historical and conceptual point of view, moral sentimentalism has emerged and developed in opposition to moral rationalism, according to which reason allows us to formulate and understand value judgments from a psychological point of view and is also the source of our axiological knowledge from an epistemic point of view. In this article we present the theoretical issues related to the sentimentalist approach to morality and evaluative judgments, starting from the diverse theories of the classical representatives of sentimentalism, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume and Smith, and especially the three theses they defended: psychological perspective, the theory of moral sense and the theory of moral feelings. I also argue that the first moral sentimentalism emerged from the confrontation of three distinct aporia: the first aporia refers to the conceptualization of emotions and emotional states; the second deals with the possibility of axiological knowledge; and the third refers to the nature and existence of values. Finally, we are interested in the birth of sentimentalism in order to highlight a series of difficulties inherent in this theoretical approach and which we find today in contemporary moral sentimentalism. The aim is to highlight the conceptual and argumentative tensions that were at the heart of sentimentalism at its emergence.
Bentham, J. (1789). Introduction aux principes de la morale et de la législation. In C. Audard (1999). Anthologie historique et critique de l’utilitarisme, tome 1 : Bentham et ses précurseurs (pp. 201-231). Paris : PUF.
Biziou, M. (2000). Le Concept de système dans la tradition anglo-écossaise des sentiments moraux, 1699-1795. De la métaphysique à l’économie politique – Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith. Lille : ANRT-diffusion.
Deonna, J., & Teroni, F. (2008). Qu’ est-ce qu’une émotion ? Paris : Vrin.
Frankena, W. (1955). Hutcheson’s Moral Sense Theory. Journal of the History of Ideas, 16(3), 356-375.
Hume, D. (1739/1978). A Treatise of Human Nature. P. Nidditch et L. Selby-Bigge (Éds.). Oxford : Clarendon Press edition.
Hume, D. (1751/1983). An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Indianapolis : Hackett.
Hume, D. (1757/1957). The Natural History of Religion. London : Adam and Charles Black.
Hume, D. (1779/2006). Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. New York : Dover Publications.
Hutcheson, F. (1728/2002), An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense. K. Haakonssen et A. Garrett (Éds.). Indianapolis : Liberty Fund.
Iwasa, N. (2013). On Three Defenses of Sentimentalism. Prolegomena, 12(1), 61–82.
Jaffro, L. (2009). Emotions et jugement moral chez Shaftesbury, Hutcheson et Hume. In S. Roux (Éd.), Les émotions (pp. 135-159). Paris : Vrin.
Kauppinen, A. (2014). Fittingness and Idealization. Ethics, 124(3), 572-588.
Nichols, S. (2004). Sentimental rules : on the natural foundations of moral judgment. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Nichols, S. (2008). Sentimentalism Naturalized. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Éd.), Moral and Diversity (pp. 255–274). Cambridge : MIT Press.
Prinz, J. (2007). The Emotional construction of morals. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Raphael, D.D. (1991). British Moralists, Vol. 1. Indianapolis : Hackett.
Shaftesbury, A. A. Cooper, Third Earl of. (1699/1999). Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit. In Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, éd. L. E. Klein. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
Smith, A. (1759/1976). The Theory of Moral Sentiments. D.D. Raphael et A.L. Macfie (Éds.).Oxford : Oxford University Press.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 The Authors & LUMEN Publishing House
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant this journal right of first publication, with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work, with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g. post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g. in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as an earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
Postmodern Openings Journal has an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs