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Summary Hume's ethics emphasizes our common humanity and our capacity to develop moral sensibilities in response to varying circumstances. He argues that moral distinctions arise from our sympathizing with the effects of character traits on those who have them and the people they interact with. The resulting judgments can have intersubjective validity both because they are rooted in common human nature, and because we can correct our sentimental responses by taking up a "general point of view" in place of a more partial perspective. Hume's aesthetics and politics also reflect the idea that corrected and cultivated passions provide a basis for sound normative judgments. He argues that discerning critics can provide a standard of taste, and that such taste is a significant aspect of human life and character. Although various political parties have claimed him as a supporter, Hume contends that philosophers should be unpartisan. He argues against both Lockean and Hobbesian contract theories and limits the right to resist sovereigns to extreme cases.
Key works

Hume's Treatise of Human Nature contains his initial exposition of his theory of the passions and morals. He later published an edited account of the former in A Dissertation on the Passions. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is Hume's mature statement of his moral theory and the work that he believed to be his best. Although the above works include some material relevant to his aesthetics and political philosophy, the Essays, Moral, Political and Literary contain lengthier discussions of these aspects of Hume's thought. Also relevant, particularly to Hume's political views, is his History of England. The Clarendon Press has published critical editions of the Treatise (Norton & Norton 2007), the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Beauchamp 2006), and the Dissertation on the Passions (together with The Natural History of Religion) (Hume 2007). Liberty Fund offers editions of both the Essays (Miller 1987) and History of England (Todd 1983).

Introductions Norton & Taylor 2006 and Radcliffe 2008 include many helpful articles that could serve as introductions to Hume's ethics, aesthetics, and social and political philosophy. Lists of the many book-length treatments of Hume's ethics and politics are available online at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Zalta 2004, open-access) and The Routledge Encylopedia of Philosophy (Craig 1996, subscription required). Townsend 2001 is notable as a comprehensive study of Hume's aesthetics. ÁRdal 1966 is a classic treatment of Hume's theory of the passions.
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  1. Contempt for the Poor, Esteem for the Rich: The Interplay of Comparison and Sympathy in Hume’s Treatise.Martin Hartmann - forthcoming - The European Legacy:1-20.
    Hume’s concept of sympathy is often discussed in isolation from the concept of comparison, which plays an important role in his social and moral philosophy. If both concepts are discussed at all in...
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  2. Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals Ed. By Taylor Jacqueline.Philip A. Reed - 2021 - Hume Studies 44 (2):278-280.
    Readers of this journal know that Hume regarded an Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals as his finest work. It was, Hume said, "incomparably the best." Yet, most of the scholarly work on Hume's moral philosophy in recent decades focuses on the Treatise, which Hume wrote some three decades prior to the Enquiry.There are good reasons to focus on the older work. It is much longer, so there is more to sink our scholarly teeth into. Many discussions and discursions appear (...)
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  3. Hume's Use of "Moral Distinctions" in Treatise 3.1.1.Dejan Šimković - 2021 - Hume Studies 44 (2):209-247.
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  4. Naturalness and Artificiality in Humean Virtue Theory.Emily Kelahan - 2021 - Hume Studies 44 (2):249-276.
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  5. A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning Into Moral Subjects and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.David Hume - 1739 - London, England: Printed for John Noon, at the White-Hart, Near Mercer's Chapel, in Cheapside.
    Influencing ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of science, David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature remains unrivalled by perhaps any other works in philosophy. The Treatise is of interest, and not merely historical interest, to professional academic philosophers. It is remarkable that it can, and often does, also serve as one of the best introductions to philosophy-to what philosophers really do-for the novice.
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  6. Hume’s Law as Another Philosophical Problem for Autonomous Weapons Systems.Robert James M. Boyles - 2021 - Journal of Military Ethics 20 (2).
    This article contends that certain types of Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) are susceptible to Hume’s Law. Hume’s Law highlights the seeming impossibility of deriving moral judgments, if not all evaluative ones, from purely factual premises. If autonomous weapons make use of factual data from their environments to carry out specific actions, then justifying their ethical decisions may prove to be intractable in light of the said problem. In this article, Hume’s original formulation of the no-ought-from-is thesis is evaluated in relation (...)
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  7. How to Prove Hume’s Law.Gillian Russell - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-30.
    This paper proves a precisification of Hume’s Law—the thesis that one cannot get an ought from an is—as an instance of a more general the- orem which establishes several other philosophically interesting, though less controversial, barriers to logical consequence.
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  8. On the Liberty of the English: Adam Smith’s Reply to Montesquieu and Hume.Paul Sagar - forthcoming - Political Theory:009059172110397.
    This essay has two purposes—first, to identify Adam Smith as intervening in the debate between Montesquieu and Hume regarding the nature, age, and robustness of English liberty. Whereas Montesquieu took English liberty to be old and fragile, Hume took it to be new and robust. Smith disagreed with both: it was older than Hume supposed, but not fragile in the way Montesquieu claimed. The reason for this was the importance of the common law in England’s legal history. Seeing this enables (...)
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  9. Hume’s Best Book: Why Hume Called His Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals ‘Incomparably the Best’ of Everything He Wrote.Wolfgang Kienzler - 2018 - Disputatio 7 (8).
    In this article, I explore why Hume regarded his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals “incomparably the best” of everything he wrote, while this judgement of his is not confirmed at all by the rankings in popularity of his works. Hume’s main reason for this judgment was the conviction that regarding the principles of morals he had reached the most satisfying, systematical and evidently true results of all his work. I argue that the general rejection of Hume’s own judgement is (...)
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  10. Hume on the Nature of Morality.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe - 2022 - Cambridge University Press.
    David Hume's moral system involves considerations that seem at odds with one another. He insists on the reality of moral distinctions, while showing that they are founded on the human constitution. He notes the importance to morality of the consequences of actions, while emphasizing that motives are the subjects of moral judgments. He appeals to facts about human psychology as the basis for an argument that morality is founded, not on reason, but on sentiment. Yet, he insists that no “ought” (...)
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  11. Economia e Política em Hume.António Franco Alexandre - 1998 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 6 (11):133-152.
    This paper is part of an on-going study of Hume's place in the genesis of liberal political thought. An analysis of his so-called "economic" essays makes use of Adam Smith’s construction of "mercantilism" to pinpoint Hume's new conceptualisation of work, consumption and culture, as main categories in the analysis of modern "commercial society" in its opposition to ancient "republican" concepts of moral and political life. An attempt is made to relate Hume's new concept of individuality with the main thrust of (...)
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  12. Razão, Sentimento e Oscilação Cética no Tratado de David Hume.Wendel de Holanda Pereira Campelo - 2019 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (54):153-166.
    This article offers a reading of David Hume’s skeptical “dangerous dilemma”, comparing it with the thought of authors of the seventeenth century as Descartes, Pascal and Huet with regard to the wavering between our natural sentiment and skeptical doubt. Based on this, we propose a different reading of the relationship between sentiment and reason in the Treatise of Human Nature, often taken only negatively and stressed by the interpreters of Hume’s skepticism.
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  13. Possible Thomistic Response to Hume’s Law and to Moore’s Open-Question Argument.Augusto Trujillo Werner - 2020 - Philosophy and Theology 32 (1-2):173-191.
    This article concerns Aquinas’s practical doctrine on two philosophical difficulties underlying much contemporary ethical debate. One is Hume’s Is-ought thesis and the other is its radical consequence, Moore’s Open-question argument. These ethical paradoxes appear to have their roots in epistemological scepticism and in a deficient anthropology. Possible response to them can be found in that Aquinas’s human intellect naturally performs three main operations: 1º) To apprehend the intellecta and universal notions ens, verum and bonum. 2º) To formulate the first theoretical (...)
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  14. Constantine Sandis, Character and Causation: Hume's Philosophy of Action (New York-London: Routledge, 2019). [REVIEW]Lorenzo Greco - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):246-248.
  15. Hume, Passion, and Action.Rachel Cohon - 2021 - Philosophical Review 130 (2):303-307.
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  16. Associative Virtues and Hume's Narrow Circle.Erin Frykholm - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (4):612-637.
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  17. A philosopher’s economist: Hume and the rise of capitalism.Gent Carrabregu - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-5.
  18. Hume on Art, Emotion, and Superstition: A Critical Study of the Four Dissertations by Amyas Merivale. [REVIEW]Alison McIntyre - 2021 - Hume Studies 44 (1):117-120.
    Book 1 of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature was reshaped into the first Enquiry, while the second Enquiry further develops some themes from Book 3. What became of Book 2, “Of the Passions”? Did Hume never extend his thinking in that area? Amyas Merivale notes that the standard answer to that question is that Hume did not do much in the way of rethinking T2 beyond selecting a few passages to excerpt, almost verbatim, in his “Dissertation on the Passions.” (...)
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  19. Hume, Passion, and Action by Elizabeth Radcliffe.Katharina Paxman - 2021 - Hume Studies 44 (1):113-116.
    It is a challenge to write a book on a topic that has received extensive treatment in philosophical discourse—especially when said treatment has been varied in purpose, angle, and aim. Hume’s work on the relationship between passion and action is one such topic. Scholarship on this theme has ranged from historically situated interpretive work, to theoretical work that assumes a Kantian foil, to the robust discourse of contemporary Humean views. In her book, Hume, Passion, and Action, Elizabeth Radcliffe has taken (...)
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  20. Empatia jako podstawa moralności. Rewizja teorii moralności Davida Hume’a i Artura Schopenhauera w perspektywie wyników badań neurobiologii prymatologii.Anna Kot - 2021 - Humanistyka I Przyrodoznawstwo 25.
    W filozofii od dawna trwa spór dotyczący podstaw moralności. Myśliciele tacy jak Arystoteles, Immanuel Kant, czy John Stuart Mill podstawową funkcję w podejmowaniu decyzji moralnych przypisują rozumowaniu. Z kolei David Hume oraz Artur Schopenhauer podkreślają pierwszoplanowe znaczenie emocji. Celem niniejszego tekstu jest rewizja sentymentalistycznej teorii moralności Hume’a i Schopenhauer’a w perspektywie 1) doniesień z badań analizujących pracę mózgu ludzkiego podczas podejmowania decyzji moralnych 2) roli neuronów lustrzanych 3) obserwacji zachowań empatycznych naczelnych. Badania te wnoszą w obszar etyki nową perspektywę, pozwalającą (...)
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  21. El Iusnaturalismo Frente a la Ley de Hume: El Caso de la New Natural Law Theory y Sus Críticos.Felipe Widow Lira - 2020 - Trans/Form/Ação 43 (3):193-212.
    Resumen Según autores como Grisez y Finnis, la teoría clásica de la ley natural es inmune a la crítica contenida en el argumento de la ley de Hume, porque aquella teoría no aspira a derivar la ética de la metafísica, ni los enunciados prácticos de enunciados fácticos. La autonomía de la razón práctica, sostienen estos autores, permite una explicación de la teoría de la ley natural que no exige ningún recurso a la metafísica o a cualquier otro conocimiento teórico de (...)
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  22. Maquiavel Na Inglaterra: O Leitor David Hume.Nilo Henrique Neves dos Reis - 2020 - Pensando - Revista de Filosofia 10 (21):79.
    Os escritos de Nicolau Maquiavel foram lidos por várias pessoas de modo não confessional desde a sua divulgação. Indícios apontam que os ingleses tiveram acesso as suas obras já no reinado de Henrique VIII, ainda que de forma restrita à elite inglesa, que tinha familiaridade com o idioma italiano. Decerto que as obras do florentino ofereceram uma sólida contribuição ao pensamento político inglês, o que, por sua vez, estimulou uma reflexão crítica ao fenômeno político, bem como aos valores vigentes, pois, (...)
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  23. Hume on Practical Morality and Inert Reason.Geoffrey Sayre-McCord - 2008 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume Iii. Oxford University Press.
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  24. Hume and Hutcheson: The Question of Influence.David Fate Norton - 2005 - In Daniel Garber & Steven Nadler (eds.), Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume 2. Oxford University Press.
  25. Is Hume's Ideal Moral Judge a Woman?Getty L. Lustila - 2017 - Hume Studies 43 (2):79-102.
    Hume refers to women as imaginative, compassionate, conversable, and delicate. While his appraisals of women seem disparate, I argue that they reflect a position about the distinctive role that Hume takes women to have in shaping and enforcing moral norms. On his view, I maintain, women provide us with the ideal model of a moral judge. I claim that Hume sees a tight connection between moral competency and those traits he identifies as feminine. Making this case requires clarifying a few (...)
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  26. Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment by Ryu Susato.Spyridon Tegos - 2021 - Hume Studies 43 (2):103-106.
    Ryu Susato's book is a comprehensive assessment of Hume's thought that defies usual labels and categorizations while operating in an unprecedented interdisciplinary spirit. It is slightly iconoclastic on two levels: from a Hume-studies point of view, Susato contextualizes Hume's oeuvre as a dynamic and ultimately unclassifiable whole within its 18th century context. In this sense, this book is an idiosyncratic follow up on the recent, path-breaking intellectual biography of Hume given by James Harris. In the same vein, 21st century labels (...)
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  27. Impartiality Through ‘Moral Optics’: Why Adam Smith Revised David Hume's Moral Sentimentalism.Christel Fricke & Maria Alejandra Carrasco - 2021 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 19 (1):1-18.
    We read Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments as a critical response to David Hume's moral theory. While both share a commitment to moral sentimentalism, they propose different ways of meeting its main challenge, that is, explaining how judgments informed by sentiments can nevertheless have a justified claim to general authority. This difference is particularly manifest in their respective accounts of ‘moral optics’, or the way they rely on the analogy between perceptual and moral judgments. According to Hume, making perceptual (...)
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  28. Simpatía, naturaleza e identidad en Hume.Fernando Infante del Rosal - 2013 - Eikasia. Revista de Filosofía 51:177-204.
    En su concepción de la simpatía Hume se desligó de sus coetáneos aportando una visión muy especial de este fenómeno, no como afecto o sentimiento, sino como factor y condición para la comunicabilidad de los afectos. La simpatía, lejos de fundarse en un rasgo moral de la naturaleza humana o en el reconocimiento de la semejanza y la proximidad, aparece como factor generador de la identidad y de los afectos, base para la constitución de lo subjetivo y lo intersubjetivo.
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  29. History Will Judge: Hume's General Point of View in Historical Moral Judgment.Serge Grigoriev - 2021 - Journal of Political Philosophy 29 (1):94-116.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  30. Hume's (Ad Hoc?) Appeal to the Calm Passions.Hsueh Qu - 2019 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 4 (100):444-469.
    Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move is that is often criticised as ad hoc (e.g. Stroud 1977 and Cohon 2008). In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume (Stroud 1977), or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction (Bricke 1996). -/- I argue that conceptual accounts face a dilemma: either they render (...)
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  31. Religion and the Perversion of Philosophy in Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.Thomas Holden - 2020 - In Jacqueline Taylor (ed.), Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals. Oxford, UK: pp. 238-254.
    I examine Hume’s claim in the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals that the theistic form of religion tends to distort philosophical thought about the nature of morality. I argue that we can see this thesis as a local application of Hume’s wider claim, intimated in various other works, that theistic religion tends to deform philosophy more generally. Understanding Hume’s account of the general tendency of theistic religion to subjugate and deform philosophy helps us set the moral case in its (...)
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  32. From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity From Locke to Hume by Tim Stuart-Buttle.James A. Harris - 2021 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 59 (1):151-152.
    It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Cicero to British—and not only British—philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For the most part, interest appears to have been much greater in De Officiis, De Finibus Malorum et Bonorum, De Natura Deorum, Academica, De Legibus, and so on, than in the works of Plato or of Aristotle. Yet Cicero was different things to different people. To many, he was the paradigmatic moderate Stoic, critical of the paradoxical excesses of Zeno (...)
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  33. The Philosophical Progress of Hume’s Essays, by Margaret Watkins.Jonathan Cottrell - forthcoming - Mind.
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  34. Shaftesbury on Selfishness and Partisanship.Michael B. Gill - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):55-79.
    In the Introduction to his Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume credits “my Lord Shaftesbury” as one of the “philosophers in England, who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing.” I describe aspects of Shaftesbury’s philosophy that justify the credit Hume gives him. I focus on Shaftesbury’s refutation of psychological egoism, his examination of partiality, and his views on how to promote impartial virtue. I also discuss Shaftesbury’s political commitments, and raise questions about recent interpretations (...)
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  35. David Hume’un Beğeni Standardı I: Farklılıklar ve Standart.Soner Soysal - 2020 - Kilikya Felsefe Dergisi 1 (2):183-196.
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  36. Hume on Virtue, Utility and Morality.Roger Crisp - 2020 - Télos 23 (1-2):9-35.
    In this paper, Roger Crisp offers an account of Hume’s theory of virtue. Crisp claims that the central place of virtue in Hume’s ethics gives Hume an extremely sophisticated position that virtue ethics cannot afford to ignore. In particular, he argues that though Hume’s position may ultimately be described as motive utilitarian, it is both an extremely sophisticated form of motive utilitarianism, and one which may remove the very possibility of non-utilitarian virtue ethics.
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  37. Epicurean in Hume and Original Epicurus.Seo-Yeon Hur - 2019 - Cogito 89:323-348.
  38. David Hume Und Adam Smith. Zur Philosophischen Dimension Einer Freundschaft.Karl Graf Ballestrem - 2005 - In Hans-Peter Schütt & Christel Fricke (eds.), Adam Smith Als Moralphilosoph. Berlin/New York. pp. 331-346.
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  39. Five Types of Ethical Theory.C. D. Broad - 1930 - New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  40. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1772).David Hume & Editor Beauchamp, Tom L. - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
    This new edition of Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, published in the Oxford Philosophical Texts series, has been designed especially for the student reader. The text is preceded by a substantial introduction explaining the historical and intellectual background to the work and its relationship to the rest of Hume's philosophy. The volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, and a section of supplementary readings.
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  41. La Influencia de la Teoría de Las Pasiones de Hume En El Juicio Moral de Adam Smith.Maria A. Carrasco - 2020 - Filosofia Unisinos 21 (3):268-276.
    The analysis of the irregular moral sentiments that Smith describes in TMS II.iii evidences the enormous influence of David Hume’s theory of passions in the moral theory of his successor, as well as the critical differences between these Scottish philosophers’ moral proposals. Moreover, these atypical situations also allow us to grasp the different parts of Smithian moral judgment, and to exclude – despite Smith’s assertion – the influence of moral luck on these judgments.Keywords: Adam Smith, David Hume, moral judgment, passions, (...)
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  42. The Moral Sense.D. Daiches Raphael - 1947 - Oxford University Press.
  43. David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician.David Fate Norton - 1982 - Princeton University Press.
    The Description for this book, David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician, will be forthcoming.
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  44. Hume and Hutcheson.James Moore - 1995 - In M. A. Stewart & John P. Wright (eds.), Hume and Hume's Connexions. pp. 23-57.
  45. A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1978 - Oxford University Press.
  46. Hume. A Collection of Critical Essays.V. C. Chappell (ed.) - 1966 - Macmillan.
  47. From Cicero to the Science of Man: From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity From Locke to Hume, by Tim Stuart-Buttle, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019, 288 Pp., £55 (Hardcover), ISBN-13: 9780198835585. [REVIEW]Paul Sagar - 2021 - History of European Ideas 47 (1):168-174.
  48. Hume, Passion, and Action by Elizabeth S. Radcliffe.Jacqueline Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (4):820-821.
    Elizabeth Radcliffe's book is an important and original contribution to scholarship on Hume's ethics and moral psychology. Throughout, she deftly combines important discussions of Hume's predecessors and contemporaries that serve to contextualize his views with in-depth analysis of Hume's texts. At the same time, she shows an impressive familiarity with more recent scholarship on Hume's and Humean ethics, and deploys much of this recent scholarship to frame her own interpretation of Hume's ethics and moral psychology. That sophisticated and nuanced interpretation (...)
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  49. Morals, Motivation and Convention: Hume's Influential Doctrines. [REVIEW]Rachel Cohon - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (3):401-405.
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  50. Chastity as a Virtue.Hwa Yeong Wang - 2020 - Religions 5 (11).
    This paper analyzes two philosophers’ views on chastity as a virtue, comparing Song Siyeol, a Korean neo-Confucian philosopher of the east, and David Hume, a Scottish philosopher. Despite the importance in and impact on women’s lives, chastity has been understated in religio-philosophical fields. The two philosophers’ understandings and arguments differ in significant ways and yet share important common aspects. Analyzing the views of Song and Hume helps us better understand and approach the issue of women’s chastity, not only as a (...)
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