The European Legacy 18 (4):1-12 (2013)

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.
Keywords Hume
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DOI 10.1080/10848770.2013.791448
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