Use what you know about the author’s general position to construct a reply that is consistent with other things the author has said, as well as with the author’s original argument. Smith will die within the month, but she tells him he may survive for a year or longer, that his cancer may not be fatal. ” These are exactly the kinds of questions your instructor wants to get you thinking about.
So how might Hume, or someone defending Hume, reply to the objections above? When you go back to read and discuss Hume, you will begin to see how he might answer such questions, and you will have a deeper understanding of his position.
Unless your professor or TA has told you otherwise, you should probably use regular prose.
In either case, keep these points in mind: Take any action allowed to be vicious: Willful murder, for instance.
(Caution: It won’t always be the first or the last sentence in the passage; it may not even be explicitly stated.) In this case, Hume’s conclusion is something like this: The viciousness of an action is a feeling of disapprobation in the person who considers it, not a property of the action itself. Consider the conclusion and ask yourself what the author needs to do to prove it.
Hume’s conclusion here seems to have two parts: When we call an action vicious, we mean that our “nature” causes us to feel blame when we contemplate that action.Step 6: Sketch out a formal reconstruction of the argument as a series of steps.Step 7: Summarize the argument, explaining the premises and how they work together.You never can find it, till you turn your reflection into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action.Here is a matter of fact, but it is the object of feeling, not of reason. So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it. Step 1: Reread the passage a few times, stopping to look up any unfamiliar words—”disapprobation,” maybe.Hume next turns his inquiry inward, and considers what is happening inside a person who calls a murder “vicious.” The person who thinks or says that murder is wrong always seems to be feeling a certain “sentiment of disapprobation.” That is, the person disapproves of the action and blames the murderer.When we say “murder is wrong,” we usually think that we are saying something about murder itself, that we are describing a property (wrongness) that the action of murder has.There is nothing else that we could mean when we call an action “vicious.” Step 4: Identify the evidence.Hume considers an example, murder, and points out that when we consider why we say that murder is vicious, two things happen: Step 5: Identify unspoken assumptions.Be sure you understand the important terms, like “vicious.” (By “vicious,” Hume seems to mean “wicked, depraved, or immoral,” which probably isn’t the way you use the word in everyday speech.) Step 2: Identify the conclusion.Sometimes your teacher will identify it for you, but even if she didn’t, you can find it.