Reid's Response to Hume's Moral Critique of Religion

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (1):85-100 (2016)
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Abstract

My aim in this paper is to present Reid's answer to Hume's claim that religion is contrary to natural human moral passions. Religion, according to Hume, weakens natural human inclinations toward virtue and invents new species of merit. Reid would respond, first, that morality is indeed tied to human nature, and that Hume fails to recognize that a sense of justice is natural as well. Since justice does not arise within human social conventions, Reid would conclude that justice is not a virtue that is limited to the human domain. Second, Reid would argue that the concordance between natural moral human motives and natural non-moral motives is a sign of design. And third, Reid would argue that uncorrupted religion is one that is faithful to morality and human nature, and that does not distort natural motives. Overall, Reid holds that the moral faculty is a natural human faculty that gives rise to natural inclinations and beliefs, but that these are concordant with religious beliefs and practices prescribed b..

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Esther Kroeker
University of Antwerp

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