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Much of the focus has been on their respective views in metaphysics and epistemology.Yet, as Thomas Nagel remarks, contemporary moral philosophy also “continues to be dominated by the disagreement between these two giants” (Nagel 2012).
Comparing Hume and Kant therefore provides opportunity to clarify and assess two of the modern era’s most influential approaches to the central problems of moral philosophy.
Comparing their views also illuminates the landscape of eighteenth-century ethical thought.
The relationship between Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and David Hume (1711–1776) is a source of longstanding fascination.
Kant credited Hume with waking him from his “dogmatic slumber”, and he describes the , arguably the most important work of modern philosophy, as the solution to the “Humean problem in its greatest possible amplification” (Prol 0–61).
The aim here is not to summarize their views or compare them on all matters ethical.
Instead, the task is to examine several key areas where we can reasonably see Kant as responding to or influenced by Hume, or where comparisons between their views are particularly fruitful. The most important difference is that Kant sees law, duty, and obligation as the very heart of morality, while Hume does not.In this respect, Kant’s conception of morality resembles what Bernard Williams calls “the moral system”, which defines the domain of morality primarily in terms of an unconditionally binding and inescapable form of obligation (Williams 1985: 193–94).Kant believes that our moral concerns are dominated by the question of what duties are imposed on us by a law that commands with a uniquely moral necessity.There are many instances where one may perceive specific conditions in which people will be more likely to feel compassion.There are also differences in the degree of an individual’s feelings of compassion, and that many people and cultures view compassion as a basic human value.If you look up compassion in the dictionary, you will see the following definition: A deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.The construct of compassion is not clearly defined in psychological literature.The experiences that Jesus had with confronting and ultimately resisting earthly temptations, and His final martyr-like suffering, put Him in a unique position to help us.In addition, by his example, we are inspired to be merciful and compassionate to one another.In the book, The Road, the story tells the tale of a boy and his father, traveling south to escape the hard winter that is falling in a world devastated by an unnamed apocalyptic event, most likely a nuclear war.Along their harsh and dangerous journey, they encounter other survivors, most are of the unsavory variety, be it cannibals, thieves or rapists.