Humean Moral Pluralism

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Moral pluralism is the view that there are different ultimate moral reasons for action, that those different reasons can sometimes come into conflict with each other, and that there exist no invariable ordering principles that tell us how to resolve such conflicts. If moral pluralism is true, we will at times have to act on moral decisions for which we can give no fully principled justification. Humeanism is the view that our moral judgments are based on our sentiments, that reason alone could not have given rise to our moral judgments, and that there are no mind-independent moral properties for our moral judgments to track. This book shows that the combination of these two views produces a more accurate account of our moral experiences than the monistic, rationalist, and non-naturalist alternatives. It elucidates the historical origins of the Humean pluralist position in the works of David Hume, Adam Smith, and their eighteenth-century contemporaries. It explains how recent work in moral psychology has advanced this position. And it argues for the position’s superiority to the non-naturalist pluralism of W. D. Ross and the monism of Kantianism and consequentialism. Pluralist contents of morality have been traditionally perceived as belonging with non-naturalist intuitionism. The Humean sentimentalist account of morality has been traditionally perceived as not belonging with any view of morality’s content at all. The book dispels both those perceptions. It shows that pluralism and Humeanism belong together, and that together they make a philosophically powerful couple.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages288
ISBN (Electronic)9780191782480, 9780191023415, 9780191039041
ISBN (Print)9780198714033
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • consequentialism
  • David Hume
  • Kantianism
  • monism
  • moral psychology
  • moral sentimentalism
  • pluralism
  • W. D. Ross
  • Adam Smith


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