Justice as an Aritificial Virtue: Selfishness and Human Nature in the Moral and Political Thought of David Hume
Abstract: David Hume’s moral theory states that our moral decisions are based on sentiments, and that the possibility of such sentiments that can effectively motivate our decisions is based on our benevolent nature. Stating that benevolence is part of our nature, however, does not mean that we are generally selfless. I will argue that Hume not only accepts our selfishness but states that it is our strongest motivational force; and that justice conceived as an artificial virtue is in accord with the political realist canon that takes human nature to be essentially imperfect.
Keywords: David Hume, justice, artificial virtues, political realism, human nature