The moral point of view in Hume, Kant and Mill Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Chiovoloni, Margaret
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • Hume, Kant and Mill each approach morality with distinctly different frameworks and methodologies, but it is important to acknowledge that they all share the crucial thought that morality involves an impartial point of view. Hume and Kant both recognize that morality is universal: what is right for one must be right for all. They both use this recognition as the starting point for their investigations. Furthermore, we can interpret Mill's proof so that it moves from a first-personal point of view to an impartial point of view. By addressing the most serious objections to the role of universality in each of these philosophical systems, I make room for acknowledging the shared ground from which each of these philosophers begin their investigations. Critics of Hume have worried that emphasizing the general point of view in his system will lead to conflicts with those passages in which he denies the role of reason in morality. I argue that these conflicts can be resolved by attending to a distinction between moral reactions and moral judgments. Critics of Kant object to his argument that the universal law formulation is a formulation of the Categorical Imperative by claiming that this general point of view does not accurately pick out worthy maxims. I argue that Kant does not expect the general point of view, as expressed in FUL, alone to do this. Instead, we must also rely on a universal end--humanity--and this insight is expressed in the humanity formulation. Critics of Mill have objected to his proof by objecting to two central premises: that what is desired is desirable, and that if each person's happiness is desirable, the aggregate happiness is desirable. I argue that it is essential to Mill's proof that the former is said from the first-person point of view, whereas the latter is said from the moral (general) point of view. The former premise means that the fact that I desire something is evidence to me that it is desirable for me. When we move through the argument to the latter premise, we move to a more general point of view.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy."
  • Hill, Thomas E.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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