more from David Hume

Single Idea 21103

[catalogued under 24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 2. Dilemmas]

Full Idea

Though an appeal to general opinion may justly, in the speculative sciences of metaphysics, natural philosophy or astronomy, be deemed unfair, yet in all questions with regard to morals there is really no other standard for deciding controversies.

Gist of Idea

Moral questions can only be decided by common opinion


David Hume (Of the original contract [1741], p.291)

Book Reference

Hume,David: 'Selected Essays' [OUP 1996], p.291

A Reaction

Surely this is too pessimistic. Common opinion decided to burn people to death for being witches. Common opinion may usually win, but there must sometimes be good grounds for resisting it.