David Hume On Justice Analysis

Decent Essays
In An Inquiry Concerning Morals, David Hume writes about what his view of justice is. Hume believes that when it comes to justice in a society, there is no need to prove justice and that ‘public utility’ is the origin of justice. Hume states, “… the rules of equity or justice depend entirely on the particular state and condition, in which men are placed, and owe their origin and existence to that utility which results to the public from their strict and regular observance” (Hume, pg. 86). To prove that justice is valuable to a society, he examines two claims, the origin of justice and the grounds for the merit of justice. In an attempt to make his case for these claims, Hume advances what we now call the justice argument. The basic idea is …show more content…
Hume believed that justice promoted human happiness. Hume was a moral sentimentalist so he believed morality was grounded in something other than reason. He was similar to Hutcheson in this aspect but he also believed individual justice can sometime conflict with what benevolence would motivate us to do. A sentimentalist believes that judgments about what is right depends on our passions rather than reason or a moral sense but, he also thinks the sentimentalist owes us an account of how a sense of justice that is opposed to sympathy or self-interest that can also develop out of such motives. The virtue of justice in not natural and is actually artificial according to Hume. Justice is not natural because it’s existence depends on human conventions because of how necessary it is fro social life. In summary, Hume basically believes justice is a compromise and having a certain amount of respect for other people’s …show more content…
Hume states that, “A man's property is supposed to be fenced against every mortal, in every possible case. But private benevolence is, and ought to be, weaker in some persons, than in others: And in many, or indeed in most persons, must absolutely fail. Private benevolence, therefore, is not the original motive of justice” (pg. 483). In this passage Hume clearly states that private benevolence does not form a basis for justice because the meaning of it may change and even fail. Therefore, justice cannot be a natural virtue.
In conclusion, Hume believes that justice is based on convention and tries to aim that social virtues are most important for mutual agreements to be in order. As citizens, it is our duty and obligation to obey the laws that we have agreed to follow and because they are in our best interest as a society. Hume’s discussion of justice is important and its’ purpose of discussion was t find the origin and nature of the virtue. For Hume, justice is similar to benevolence in that no one ever really questions it. Both of these virtues are what contribute to happiness and security of

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