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A Sceptical Theory of Morality and Law

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James Allan

A Sceptical Theory of Morality and Law aims ultimately to cast light on some contentious issues in the philosophy of law, including the nature of rights and of judicial interpretation. The answers one gives, however, rest on the moral theory one finds most convincing. The first part of this book gives a sustained defence of a sceptical moral theory owing much to the views of David Hume. That version of scepticism is then relied upon in the author's discussion of law and legal theory.

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Notes 229

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Notes Introduction Treatise, pp.xvii - xviii. 2 As a partial exception to this, I do briefly cntlcise Hume's compatibilist solution. Vide chapter six, note 41 infra. Vide too chapter two, the introduction before section a) and chapter nine, note 42 infra. For a full examination of the free-will dilemma vide Honderich (I). 3 I agree with Stroud (chapter I, pp. 9-16) that Hume never really questions the Newtonian, atomistic picture of the mind in terms of impressions and ideas. He accepts it as the best theory going and then adds to it. In general, though, Hume does make it clear that the general observations he offers about human nature are to be distinguished from the explanation he details. "I shall only premise, that we must distinguish exactly betwixt the phenomenon itself, and the causes, which I shall assign for it; and must not imagine from any uncertainty in the latter, that the former is also uncertain. The phenomenon may be real, tho' my explication be chimerical." (Treatise, p.60). Stroud points out and analyses those areas where Hume's uncritical reliance on the theory of ideas leads him into trouble while recognising that Hume was not a slavish follower of the theory. (Vide particularly pp.37, 46 and chapter X, Stroud). 4 Stroud, p.232. Treatise, p.64. Chapter One My discussion of Hume's conception of reason in this chapter has been particularly influenced by Mackie(2), Kemp Smith, Stroud, Ardal, McDowell, Harman, Macleod and Nagel. In my narrative in this and future chapters I...

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