Humean explanations in the moral sciences

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):57 – 80 (1982)
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There is an essential tension in Hume's account of explanation in the moral sciences. He holds the familiar (though problematic) view that explanations of action are causal explanations backed by the laws of human nature. But he also tenders a rational and historical model of explanation which has been neglected in Hume studies. Developed primarily in the Essays and put into practice in the History of England, this model holds that explanations in the moral sciences cite agents? reasons for acting in definite historical situations. Such explanations are context?dependent, social (not psychological) in content, essentially post hoc, and provide insufficient grounds for prediction. The tension between Hume's two models is considerable, not to say inconsistent. We would best understand him as trying to reconcile the two. Each provides different and equally important kinds of intelligibility. Until this is appreciated, the one?sided interpretation of Hume as a psychological reductionist and a covering?law theorist will continue



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Praxis and action.Richard J. Bernstein - 1971 - Philadelphia,: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Praxis and action.Richard J. Bernstein - 1971 - London,: Duckworth.
Hume's intentions.John Arthur Passmore - 1952 - London: Duckworth. Edited by David Hume.
Hume's philosophical politics.Duncan Forbes - 1975 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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