17 October 2014
The Discovery of Human Morals
Choices are an essential part of the every day human routine. Some choices are much more simple than others, such as what you are going to eat for breakfast or whether you are going to walk or drive to school. But other choices are much more difficult to decide on, such as whether you will spend time with family or friends, or whether you are going to go to church or watch football on a Sunday afternoon. When we encounter one of these more difficult decisions, we find that our actions are almost always coinciding with our morals. But from where do we as humans derive our morality? This question does not come with an easy answer. To find out the answer to this question, we must turn to two great philosophers, David Hume and Immanuel Kant, and examine each of their perspectives.
Firstly we will investigate the outlook of David Hume. Hume believes that morals are subjective and hold no universal truth, and therefore can’t be defined in such a way that makes them true to all people. Hume distinguishes statements of morality as being the “ought or ought not” statements as compared to statements of truth, which are based upon the “is and is not”. His overarching belief about human morality is that it is derived entirely from sensual impulse, or what we call “feeling”. He presents this idea by stating, “Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions”. Hume opposes the view entirely that to act morally is nothing more than to have a rational understanding of moral truths. Instead, he argues that there are no such things as universal moral truths, but that each individual derives their own moral truths from their feelings. Moreover, Hume argues that reason has only one role, and that is to find out which means help us achieve a goal. Reason itself plays no part in determining the actual goal. Therefore, we can infer that our goals are made solely by what Hume referred to earlier as...