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articles
1. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
David Storrs-Fox Hume’s Skeptical Definitions of “Cause”
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The relation between Hume’s constructive and skeptical aims has been a central concern for Hume interpreters. Hume’s two definitions of ‘cause’ in the Treatise and first Enquiry apparently represent an important constructive achievement, but this paper argues that the definitions must be understood in terms of Hume’s skepticism. The puzzle I address is simply that Hume gives two definitions rather than one. I use Don Garrett’s interpretation as a foil to develop my alternative skeptical interpretation. Garrett claims the definitions exhibit a general susceptibility to two kinds of definition that all “sense-based concepts” share. Against Garrett, I argue that the definitions express an imperfection Hume finds only in our concept of causation. That imperfection is absent from other sense-based concepts, and prompts skeptical sentiments in Hume’s conclusion to the Treatise’s Book 1. I close by comparing my interpretation with those of Helen Beebee, Stephen Buckle, Galen Strawson and Paul Russell.
2. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Michael Losonsky Hume’s Skepticism and the Whimsical Condition
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This essay examines the content, context and relevance of Hume’s characterization of the human condition in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding as “whimsical.” According to Hume, human beings are by nature both theoretical and practical beings and the whimsical condition is an instability generated by both theory and practice. It is the fact that by nature human beings must and do act, reason and believe with assurance and conviction, but are unable to satisfy their natural desire to justify their assurances and convictions. On Hume’s account, this skepticism is cancelled neither by theoretical reflection nor human practice. Finally, Hume’s text suggests that human beings suffer the “whimsical condition of mankind” not only collectively, but that it is a condition human beings experience individually, including dogmatic reasoners.
3. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Emily Nancy Kress Occurrent States and the Problem of Counterfeit Belief in Hume’s Treatise
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This paper assesses Hume’s theory of belief by considering a puzzle about the nature of counterfeit belief. Counterfeit beliefs include states brought on by poetry, which possess the same phenomenological properties as beliefs but still fail to count as beliefs (T 1.3.10.10; SBN 630–31). I argue that a dispositional interpretation can give an account of the difference between belief and counterfeit belief, but most common versions of the occurrent state view cannot. Nonetheless, I argue that the occurrent state view can be revised to accommodate the problem of counterfeit belief. On my version of the occurrent state interpretation, beliefs are lively ideas—that is, occurrent states—that are related to a present impression in an appropriate way. Because counterfeit beliefs are not appropriately related to a present impression, they do not count as beliefs.
4. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Joshua M. Wood Hume’s Impression of Will
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The standard interpretation of the impression of will takes Hume to advance two substantive claims about the experience of willing an act. The first claim holds that this experience is readily introspectible; the second that this experience is strictly antecedent to the performance of an act. This interpretation has rendered the impression of will vulnerable to two lines of criticism. One problem is introspective. We are not normally aware of a distinct experience of willing an act. Another problem is temporal. It is odd to think that the experience of volition is something that occurs in its entirety prior to the performance of an act. I argue that the standard interpretation, which burdens Hume with an implausible view of the experience of willing an act, imports claims for which there is insufficient textual evidence and which are not required by his theoretical commitments.
5. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
James Chamberlain Justice and the Tendency towards Good: The Role of Custom in Hume’s Theory of Moral Motivation
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Given the importance of sympathetic pleasures within Hume’s account of approval and moral motivation, why does Hume think we feel obliged to act justly on those occasions when we know that doing so will benefit nobody? I argue that Hume uses the case of justice as evidence for a key claim regarding all virtues. Hume does not think we approve of token virtuous actions, whether natural or artificial, because they cause or aim to cause happiness in others. It is sufficient for the action to be of a type which has “a tendency to the public good” for us to feel approval of it, and to be motivated to perform it. Once we are aware that just actions tend to cause happiness, we approve of all just actions, even token actions which cause more unhappiness than happiness.
book reviews
6. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Elizabeth S. Radcliffe Constantine Sandis. Character and Causation: Hume’s Philosophy of Action
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7. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Angela Calvo de Saavedra Philip A. Reed and Rico Vitz, eds. Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology
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8. Hume Studies: Volume > 43 > Issue: 1
Richard J. Fry Dennis C. Rasmussen. The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship that Shaped Modern Thought
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9. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Ann Levey, Karl Schafer, Amy M. Schmitter Editors’ Introduction for Volume 42
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articles
10. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Emilio Mazza, Gianluca Mori “Loose Bits of Paper” and “Uncorrect Thoughts”: Hume’s Early Memoranda in Context
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Hume’s early memoranda continue to excite different and contradictory interpretations as to their dating, sources, and relation to the Treatise, the Essays and the Dialogues. Our interpretation is based on a double hypothesis: they are notes taken from other notes, rather than current reading notes, and many of them, as to their content, precede the composition of the Treatise. We compare Hume’s notes with their declared or hidden sources and we analyse Hume’s quotations from two of his favourite philosophical authors: Dubos and Bayle. The memoranda are revealed to be notes deemed worth transcribing, later to be put aside or to be developed. Most of them show the breadth of Hume’s youthful interests: history, politics and economics, as well as metaphysics and religion in the early eighteenth century.
11. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Dan Kervick Hume’s Perceptual Relationism
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My topic in this paper will be Hume’s claim that we have no idea of a vacuum. I offer a novel interpretation of Hume’s account of our ideas of extension that makes it clear why those ideas cannot include any ideas of vacuums, and I distinguish my interpretation from prominent readings offered by other Hume scholars. An upshot of Hume’s account, I will argue, is his commitment to a remarkable and distinctly Humean view I call “perceptual relationism.” Perceptual relationism is a fundamental characteristic of Hume’s “universe of the imagination,” and a manifestation of just how “loose and separate” the constituents of that inner universe are. Once we understand perceptual relationism and its entailments, we are in a better position to understand the rest of Hume’s sometimes puzzling remarks on space and the vacuum.
12. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Kevin R. Busch Hume’s Alleged Lapse on the Causal Maxim
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In his account of our belief in the Causal Maxim Hume argued, among other things, that it is not absolutely necessary for any event to be caused. Harold Noonan attempts an objection to Hume’s argument: in showing (i) the absolute possibility for any event to exist without its actual cause, Hume would not thereby show (ii) the absolute possibility for any event to exist uncaused. For this objection to succeed, Noonan needs two further assumptions: first, that Hume indeed could not move plausibly from (i) to (ii); second, that Hume needed to move from (i) to (ii) to show (ii). Both assumptions are false.
13. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Matias Slavov Hume on the Laws of Dynamics: The Tacit Assumption of Mechanism
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I shall argue that when Hume refers to the laws of dynamics, he tacitly assumes a mechanism. Nevertheless, he remains agnostic on whether the hidden micro-constitution of bodies is machinelike. Hence this article comes to the following conclusion. Hume is not a full-blown mechanical philosopher. Still his position on dynamic laws and his concept of causation instantiate a tacitly mechanical understanding of the interactions of bodies.
14. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Richard J. Fry Skeptical Influences on Hume’s View of Animal Reasoning
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Hume directly addresses animal reasoning and concludes that human causal reasoning must be similar to what he has identified in non-human animals. It would be easy to attribute influence on this issue to skeptical thinkers who influenced other parts of Hume’s philosophy and also addressed non-human animal reasoning, that is, Bayle, Montaigne, and/or Sextus Empiricus. I argue that such claims of direct influence are improbable. First, Hume establishes conclusions about human reasoning on the basis of examining animals; the skeptics establish conclusions about animal reasoning on the basis of their similarities to humans. Second, Hume’s conclusions in these sections differ in scope and function from those of these skeptics. Finally, Hume’s evidence differs markedly from these skeptics’. Hume and these skeptics do make use of the same kind of comparison between humans and animals, but that comparison is also found in other Modern thinkers that Hume read: I show that it is present in Hobbes and Locke.
15. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Kelly M. S. Swope On David Hume’s “Forms of Moderation”
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Treatise 2.3.6, “Of the influence of the imagination on the passions,” provides a magnified view into the relationship between motivation, morality, and politics in Hume’s philosophy. Here, Hume analyzes a “noted passage” from the history of antiquity in which the citizens of fifth-century Athens deliberated over whether to burn the ships of their neighboring Grecians after winning a decisive naval victory against the Persians. Hume finds the passage notable precisely because of a failure of the imagination to exert an influence on the Athenians’ passions during their deliberations, leading them to abstain from further military action. This paper discusses how Hume’s analysis of this event reveals new connections between his passional, moral, and political theories in the Treatise.
16. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Jonathan Harold Krause The Political Lessons of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
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Much scholarship has traditionally treated David Hume’s interest in religion as primarily theoretical in character. This theoretical treatment of Hume’s engagement with religion neglects his marked concern with religion’s relation to political life. In the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume is primarily concerned not with theory but with religion’s practical effects. In this article, I build on recent scholarly attention to the connection between religion and politics in Hume’s thought by examining the dialogical form of the Dialogues, and especially, the role of Pamphilus, the young student whose central place in the Dialogues is often overlooked. The consideration of the best approach to take to the religious education of Pamphilus throws into sharp relief the practical consequences of different theoretical approaches to religion. The question of religion’s political consequences, and the ramifications of those consequences for the religious education of the young, is Hume’s primary focus in the Dialogues.
17. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Andre C. Willis The Impact of David Hume’s Thoughts about Race for His Stance on Slavery and His Concept of Religion
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Reconsidering David Hume’s thoughts about race using the methods of both Black critical thought and critical approaches in the study of religion can shed new light on the grounds of his response to slavery and his way of conceiving religion. This paper argues that Anglo-colonialist processes of racialization subjugated others based on both their physical and theistic “types.” Viewing Hume’s stance on slavery and his complicated writings on religion through the lens of these colonialist modes of racialization reveals that Hume’s commitment to the fixed hierarchy of races, his “rejection” of slavery, and his ‘history’ of religions serviced his belief in black inferiority and supported Anglo-colonialist domination.
book reviews
18. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Miren Boehm Whence the Chemistry of Hume’s Mind?: Tamás Demeter. David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism: Methodology and Ideology in Enlightenment Inquiry
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19. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
James A. Harris Jia Wei. Commerce and Politics in Hume’s History of England
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20. Hume Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1/2
Danielle Charette Paul Sagar. The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith
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