more from David Hume

Single Idea 4580

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue]

Full Idea

I desire you to consider if there be any quality that is virtuous, without having a tendency either to the public good or to the good of the person who possesses it.

Gist of Idea

All virtues benefit either the public, or the individual who possesses them


David Hume (Letters [1739], to Hutcheson 1739)

Book Reference

'British Moralists 1650-1800 Vol. 2', ed/tr. Raphael,D.D. [Hackett 1991], p.110

A Reaction

Obviously this is generally true. How, though, does it benefit the individual to secretly preserve their integrity? I go round to visit a friend to repay a debt; I am told they have died; I quietly leave some money on the table and leave. Why?