The moral debates continued to see good as merely that which gives happiness or pleasure. \"…it was assumed that what we ought to do is always a function of what it would be good to bring about: action can only be right because it produces good (J.B. Schneewind 'Modern Moral Philosophy'). It was the breaking away from this idea that was perhaps the most important aspect of the works of both Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776). Hume's moral theory (...) arose out of his belief that reason alone can never cause action. Desire or feelings cause action. Because reason alone can never cause action, morality is rooted in our feelings. Virtue arises from acting on a desire to help others. Hume's moral theory is therefore a virtue-centered morality rather than the natural-law morality, which saw morality as coming from God. Kant's notion of morality arose from his notion of a moral law; a law applicable to all people at all times, that imposes absolute duties on us. According to Kant, you \"ought to act according to the maxim that is qualified for universal law giving; that is, you ought to act so that the maxim of your action may become a universal law\" (Immanuel Kant 'Lectures of Mr. Kant on the Metaphysics of Morals'). Kant, unlike Hume, saw it as possible to act on reason alone, and whether or not a person acted morally depended on whether he/she had acted on reason alone. The essential difference between Kant and Hume that affected their whole thinking on the matter of morality was each one's belief about the autonomy of the will. Kant saw the will as fully autonomous and therefore needing no external sources for motivation, thus making it possible to act out of reason alone. (shrink)
A key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume was a major influence on thinkers ranging from Kant and Schopenhauer to Einstein and Popper, and his writings continue to be deeply relevant today. With four essays by leading Hume scholars exploring his complex intellectual legacy, this volume presents an overview of Hume’s moral, political, and social philosophy. Editors Angela Coventry and Andrew Valls bring together a selection of writings from Hume’s most important works, with contributors placing them in their appropriate (...) context and offering a lively discourse on the relevance of Hume’s thought to contemporary subjects like reason’s dependence on emotion and the importance of social convention in political and economic behavior. Perfect for classroom use, this volume is an invaluable companion for anyone studying an important thinker who advanced the development of moral philosophy, economics, cognitive science, and many other fields of the Western tradition. (shrink)
David Hume: Moral Philosophy Although David Hume is commonly known for his philosophical skepticism, and empiricist theory of knowledge, he also made many important contributions to moral philosophy. Hume’s ethical thought grapples with questions about the relationship between morality and reason, the role of human emotion in thought and action, the nature of moral … Continue reading David Hume: Moral Philosophy →.
The ‘Scottish Enlightenment’ has fostered a steadily growing academic industry since Duncan Forbes and Hugh Trevor-Roper put the subject on the map in the 1960s. David Hume and Adam Smith have from the start been widely considered as its leading thinkers, and their thoughts on politics have attracted an increasing amount of attention in recent years. Two new publications invite readers to reflect on the state of the art in Scottish Enlightenment studies in general, and especially Hume and Smith scholarship. (...) Christopher Berry’s Essays on Hume, Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment collects many of Berry’s pathbreaking essays from a career spanning over 40 years. The Infidel and the Professor by Dennis Rasmussen is astonishingly the first book-length treatment of the private and philosophical friendship between Hume and Smith. Both publications reflect how much Scottish Enlightenment studies have expanded since the 1960s, and the sustained interest in Hume and Smith to boot. At the same time, they also raise questions about the future of the field and what remains to be done. (shrink)
In this paper I show how what came to be known as “the double law of habit,” first formulated by Joseph Butler in a discussion of moral psychology in 1736, was taken up and developed by medical physiologists William Porterfield, Robert Whytt, and William Cullen as they disputed fundamental questions regarding the influence of the mind on the body, the possibility of unconscious mental processes, and the nature and extent of voluntary action. The paper shows, on a particular topic, the (...) overlap between eighteenth-century philosophical writings on the science of human nature on the one hand,and medical writings and lectures in physiology on the other. Other early modern writers discussed in the paper include René Descartes, Herman Boerhaave and David Hume. (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to recover an 18th Century approach to moral theory that can be called Moral Taste Theory. Through an exploration of 18th Century sources I define the characteristics of moral taste theory and to distinguish it from its closest rival, moral sense theory. In general a moral taste theorist holds that moral judgments are analogous to aesthetic judgments while a moral sense theorist holds that moral judgments are analogous to physical sense perception. Francis Hutcheson was a (...) paradigmatic moral sense theorist, but I argue that David Hume is best understood as a moral taste theorist. If we do not understand the concept of moral taste, we cannot understand 18th Century moral philosophy, and, more importantly, we will miss out on an important source of inspiration for 21st Century moral philosophy. (shrink)
There seems a potential tension between Hume's naturalistic project and his normative ambitions. Hume adopts what I call a methodological naturalism: that is, the methodology of providing explanations for various phenomena based on natural properties and causes. This methodology takes the form of introducing ‘the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects’, as stated in the subtitle of the Treatise; this ‘experimental method’ seems a paradigmatically descriptive one, and it remains unclear how Hume derives genuinely normative prescriptions from this methodology. (...) In resolving this problem, I will argue that Hume's naturalistic methodology – that is, his ‘experimental philosophy’, or what has come to be known as his experimental method – consists of the systematization of phenomena pertaining to human nature. In applying his experimental method to normative subjects, Hume systematizes our normative judgements, deriving general principles of normative justification; he then reflexivel... (shrink)
Hume’s view that the object of moral feeling is a natural passion, motivating action, causes problems for justice. There is apparently no appropriate natural motive, whilst, if there were, its “partiality” would unfit it to ground the requisite impartial approval. We offer a critique of such solutions as that the missing non-moral motive is enlightened self-interest, or that it is feigned, or that it consists in a just disposition. We reject Cohon’s postulation of a moral motive for just acts, and (...) also Harris’s attempt to dispense with motive as the source of their merit, by invoking extensive sympathy, and citing their beneficial societal consequences. These solutions assume that, if Hume remains a virtue ethicist, the natural virtues supply the paradigm. Taylor claims that a revolution in motivational psychology follows the inauguration of the artificial convention of justice, remoulding the natural virtues. This solution founders, we argue, upon unresolved contradictions besetting even these virtues. (shrink)
Beginning with an overview of Hume's life and work, Don Garrett introduces in clear and accessible style the central aspects of Hume's thought. These include Hume's lifelong exploration of the human mind; his theories of inductive inference and causation; skepticism and personal identity; moral and political philosophy; aesthetics; and philosophy of religion. The final chapter considers the influence and legacy of Hume's thought today. Throughout, Garrett draws on and explains many of Hume's central works, including his Treatise of Human Nature (...) , Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding , and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion . Hume is essential reading not only for students of philosophy, but anyone in the humanities and social sciences and beyond seeking an introduction to Hume's thought. (shrink)
David Hume’s views on the subject of free will are among the most influential contributions to this long-disputed topic. Throughout the twentieth century, and into this century, Hume has been widely regarded as having presented the classic defense of the compatibilist position, the view that freedom and responsibility are consistent with determinism. Most of Hume’s core arguments on this issue are found in the Sections entitled “Of liberty and necessity,” first presented in Book 2 of A Treatise of Human Nature (...) (1739) and then in his An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748). Although the general position in both these works is much the same, there are some significant points of difference relating to the way in which the core position is presented and also in the specific range of arguments covered. The focus of my concerns in this essay will not, however, lie with the relationship between the Treatise and the first Enquiry versions of “Of liberty and necessity.” My discussion will center on the contrast between two alternative interpretations of Hume’s views on this subject, with particular reference to the version presented in the Treatise. It will be my particular concern to explain and defend the naturalistic as against the classical compatibilist account and to explain the general significance of the naturalistic account for the contemporary debate. (shrink)
Revered for his contributions to empiricism, skepticism and ethics, David Hume remains one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. His first and broadest work, A Treatise of Human Nature, comprises three volumes, concerning the understanding, the passions and morals. He develops a naturalist and empiricist program, illustrating that the mind operates through the association of impressions and ideas. This Companion features essays by leading scholars that evaluate the philosophical content of the arguments in Hume's Treatise (...) while considering their historical context. The authors examine Hume's distinctive views on causation, motivation, free will, moral evaluation and the origins of justice, which continue to influence present-day philosophical debate. This collection will prove a valuable resource for students and scholars exploring Hume, British empiricism and modern philosophy. (shrink)
Familiarity with the doctrines presented in Richard Allestree’s devotional work The Whole Duty of Man (1658), which Hume reported having read as a boy, can illuminate the strategy of argument Hume employs in Treatise 2.1.6–2.1.8 to undermine views he attributes to “the vulgar systems of ethicks.” Hume’s explicit critique of the view that pride is a sin and humility a virtue in Treatise 2.1.7 relies on assumptions that are already present in Allestree’s account of pride and humility and are described (...) using similar language. Sections 6–8 of Treatise 2.1 also provide an implicit critique of Allestree’s attempts to induce a general stance of humility based on mortifying considerations about human nature and to inspire episodes of penitential humility for the sins of the day. I argue that the “limitations to this account” gathered together in 2.1.6 are placed there to set up this critique. Together, the limitations imply that defects in our personal character are sufficiently close to us, peculiar to us, discernible to others, of appropriate duration, and supported by general rules to generate the passion of humility when we reflect on them, while reflection on human nature in general and particular episodes of sin are not. (shrink)
this article provides a response to David Hume’s argument against the plausibility of miracles as found in Section 10 of his An enquiry concerning human understanding by means of Charles Sanders Peirce’s method of retroduction, hypothetic inference, and abduction, as it is explicated and applied in his article entitled A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God, rather than fo‐ cusing primarily on Peirce’s explicit reaction to Hume in regard to miracles, as found in Hume on miracles. the main focus (...) will be on Peirce’s neglected argument rather than his explicit con ontation with Hume on the issue of miracles, because his criticisms of Hume demands a methodological approach appropriate for scienti cally analysing surprising phenomena or outliers, of which miracles or the reality of god would be but two examples amongst many. this article, then, consists of an attempt to construct this method as one that draws inferences neither a priori nor a posteriori, but per posterius, because such a method is capable of rigorously questioning rogue or surprising phenomena, e.g. miracles. (shrink)
Hume did not criticize Hutcheson’s moral-empirical argument in his published philosophical works, even though he forcefully denied, especially in Parts X and XI of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, that we could empirically prove the moral attributes of the Deity. Yet he seemingly rejected this particular reasoning in a famous letter to Hutcheson, dated March 16, 1740. Hutcheson’s claim that our moral sense is a likely to be expected effect of divine benevolence and Hume’s critique of this claim are analyzed (...) in this essay. It is argued that the particular criticism presented by Hume in that letter is not sufficient to refute Hutcheson’s argument. It is also suggested that Hume may be right after all in rejecting Hutcheson’s inference about God’s benevolent design on other grounds, that is, our deep-rooted knowledge of the annoying conspicuousness of evil in the world. (shrink)
This chapter begins with a description of the general character of Hume's ethics, which are Epicurean in that he assumes that pleasure is good, and every good thing is pleasing. All virtues, for him, are ‘agreeable or useful’ to their possessor or to others, and the useful is defined as what can be expected to yield future pleasure. The discussion then covers Hume's views on sympathy and the principles governing our approbations; trust and its enlargement by social ‘artifices’; natural virtues, (...) natural duties, and what they include and exclude; responsibility; the role of reason; rights; and his influence on subsequent moral philosophers. (shrink)
Plato Tom Angier -- Aristotle Timothy Chappell -- Stoics Jacob Klein -- Aquinas Vivian Boland O.P -- Hume Peter Millican -- Kant Ralph Walker -- Hegel Kenneth Westphal -- Marx Sean Sayers -- Mill Krister Bykvist -- Nietzsche Ken Gemes and Christoph Schuringa -- Macintyre David Solomon.
The Continuum Companion to Hume is a comprehensive and accessible guide to Hume's life and work includes 21 specially commissioned essays, written by a team of leading experts, covering every aspect of Hume's thought. The Companion presents details of Hume's life, historical and philosophical context, a comprehensive overview of all the key themes and topics apparent in his work, including his accounts of causal reasoning, scepticism, the soul and the self, action, reason, free will, miracles, natural religion, politics, human nature, (...) women, economics and history, and an account of his reception and enduring influence. This is an essential reference tool for anyone working in the fields of Hume Studies and Eighteenth-Century Philosophy. (shrink)
David Hume is widely regarded as the greatest English thinker in the history of philosophy. His contributions to a huge range of philosophical debates are as important and influential now as they were in the eighteenth century. This book provides an introduction to the ideas of this hugely significant thinker.
In the first book of its kind, Bernard Freydberg places David Hume firmly in the tradition of the Platonic dialogues, and regards him as a proper ancestor of contemporary continental philosophy. Although Hume is largely confined to his historical context within British Empiricism, his skepticism resonates with the Socratic Ignorance expressed by Plato, and his account of experience points toward very contemporary concerns in continental thought. Through close readings of An Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles (...) of Morals, and the essay “On the Standard of Taste,” Freydberg traces a philosophy of imagination that will set the stage for wider consideration of Hume within continental thought. (shrink)
Este libro explora a fondo la obra de Hume desde la reconstrucción de un diálogo con Husserl. Así, la autora plantea que la ‘verdadera filosofía’ que planteó el pensador inglés es producto de un giro en sus tesis que le permitió concebir la práctica de su oficio desde tres metáforas: la conquista de la capital, explica el método; el anatomista y el pintor, su carácter comunicacional; y el viaje escéptico, su legitimidad como ciencia en la construcción del conocimiento.
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This first volume contains the critical text of David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, followed by the shortin which Hume set out the key arguments of the larger work; the volume concludes with A Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend in Edinburgh, Hume's defence of the Treatise when it was under attack from ministers seeking to prevent Hume's appointment as Professor of (...) Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. (shrink)
The first half of Annette Baier's book opens up a fascinating new area of Hume scholarship. We all know that Hume wore two hats, as a philosopher and a historian. But what exactly is the relationship between his general philosophical writings and his History of England? In particular, what can his portrayals of influential monarchs and religious leaders, such as Oliver Cromwell or Bishop Tunstal, teach us about his philosophical commitments?
Simon Blackburn’s How to Read Hume, Robert Fogelin’s Hume’s Skeptical Crisis: A Textual Study and John P. Wright’s Hume’s ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’: An Introduction are all clear and highly readable works directed at audiences of students and other non-specialists. Given that all three of the authors are prominent and distinguished Hume scholars, I suspect these works will be of great interest to Hume specialists as well. This piece first summarizes the aims and methods of each book and next, (...) by way of evaluation, compares and contrasts each author’s work on four features that contribute to the general character of an introductory work devoted to Hume’s philosophy. These features include selection of topics .. (shrink)
Für moderne Handlungskontexte erweist sich der klassische Verantwortungsbegriff als inadäquat. Ein alternatives Konzept der Verantwortung, das auf der Humeschen Theorie der künstlichen Tugenden basiert, wird entwickelt und an einem einfachen Koordinationsspiel illustriert. Verantwortung wird dabei als das Resultat eines sozialen Zuschreibungsprozesses bestimmt. Menschen, denen Verantwortung zugeschrieben wird, erfüllen eine Funktion als Bezugspunkt sozialer Koordination. Es wird argumentiert, dass eine solche Konzeption gegenüber der klassischen ein feineres und angemesseneres Verständnis des Verhältnisses von kausaler Urheberschaft und Verantwortung vermittelt. Einige Schlussfolgerungen mit Blick (...) auf die Eigenschaften, die Personen in verantwortlichen Positionen haben sollten, werden gezogen. Gefordert sind: Autonomie, Integrität und Kompetenz. (shrink)
In a well-known footnote in Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume calls William Wollaston's moral theory a "whimsical system" and purports to destroy it with a few brief objections. The first of those objections, although fatally flawed, has hitherto gone unrefuted. To my knowledge, its chief error has escaped attention. In this paper I expose that error; I also show that it has relevance beyond the present subject. It can occur with regard to any moral theory which, (...) like Wollaston's, locates the wrongness of an act in a property that can reside in non-actions no less than in actions. (shrink)
David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton’s new edition of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature , volumes 1 and 2 of The Clarendon Edition of the Works of David Hume, establishes a new standard for scholars engaged with that work, in two ways. In the first place, it presents the cleanest critical text to date of the Treatise itself, together with the most robust scholarly apparatus available. Secondly, and in some ways more extraordinarily, the new Clarendon edition realizes (...) for the first time an approximation of the second edition of the Treatise that Hume himself had planned but never executed.The Clarendon Edition was initiated thirty-two years ago in 1975, the year preceding the bicentennial of Hume’s death. General editors of the series include Tom L. Beauchamp, David Fate Norton, and M. A. Stewart. In Beauchamp’s words, “Hume scholars had increasingly begun to appreciate that available editions of Hume’s work were often textually and historically inaccurate, biased in favor of certain textual interpretations, and lacking in basic information essential for scholarly work on the text.”. (shrink)
RESUMO -/- Este artigo discute duas variedades de interpretação para a teoria moral de Hume. De um lado, ela é representada como uma forma de subjetivismo e, de outro, como uma forma de realismo. Ao final, é proposto que esta filosofia pode ser melhor descrita como uma forma de intersubjetivismo. -/- ABSTRACT -/- This paper discusses two varieties of interpretations of Hume's moral theory. On the one side the attempt to represent Hume's moral theory as a form of the moral (...) subjectivism, on the other, as a form of realism. Finally, propose that Hume's moral philosophy may be rather described as a form of the intersubjectivism. (shrink)
Impressions of Hume collects brand-new essays from leading scholars in different philosophical, historiographical, and literary traditions within which Hume is a canonical figure. To some his writings are vehicles for intuitions, problems, and arguments which are at the center of contemporary philosophical reflection; others locate Hume's views against the background of concerns and debates of his own time. Hume's texts may be read as highly sophisticated literary-cum-philosophical creations, or as moments in the construction of the ideology of modernity; these are (...) "open" texts which present their reader with a bounty of different materials and inspirations. (shrink)
Claudia Schmidt begins her new book, David Hume: Reason in History, by noting how recent literature has tended either to offer an overview of Hume’s thinking or to develop a “unified account of a number of themes” from it; there are no extant studies, she emphasizes, that both display the “explicit order of a systematic survey” and provide “a unified interpretation of his thought”. Schmidt takes this to be a “lacuna in the literature,” one she intends to fill by combining (...) a “systematic survey” of Hume’s contributions to the various branches of philosophy, history, and the social sciences, with a “distinctive interpretation” of her own. In so doing, she casts her net over a wide audience: the book is intended to bring in those starting out on their study of Hume, as well as attract the more seasoned specialist in search of a new interpretation, the non-specialist with an interest in recent scholarship, and those outside philosophy who are curious about Hume’s place in the methodology and history of their own disciplines. (shrink)
The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment offers a philosophical perspective on an eighteenth-century movement that has been profoundly influential on western culture. A distinguished team of contributors examines the writings of David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, Colin Maclaurin and other Scottish thinkers, in fields including philosophy, natural theology, economics, anthropology, natural science and law. In addition, the contributors relate the Scottish Enlightenment to its historical context and assess its impact and legacy in Europe, America and beyond. (...) The result is a comprehensive and accessible volume that illuminates the richness, the intellectual variety and the underlying unity of this important movement. It will be of interest to a wide range of readers in philosophy, theology, literature and the history of ideas. (shrink)