Oh, the Humanity: Deflating a Humean Concept

History of Philosophy Quarterly 38 (3):197-217 (2021)
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The concept of “humanity” is integral to David Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, but barely appears in his earlier Treatise. Many consider the later “humanity” theory superior, permitting a more “extensive” sympathy not limited by proximate associations. This paper argues for Hume's consistency on humanity by surveying The History of England. Hume's History discussions lend support to the associative, and thus limited, Treatise conception. Humanity is opposed to religious enthusiasm; its positive effects are local and particular. Moreover, Hume's historiography involves a hesitation on the content of “humane” judgments, which cannot fulfill the cosmopolitan function envisioned by many present-day interpreters.



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A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals.David Hume & Tom L. Beauchamp - 1998 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 190 (2):230-231.
Sympathy and the project of Hume's second enquiry.Kate Abramson - 2001 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 83 (1):45-80.
Humanity, sympathy and the puzzle of Hume's second enquiry.Remy Debes - 2007 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (1):27 – 57.

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