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Hume Studies

Volume 44, Issue 2, November 2018

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Displaying: 1-7 of 7 documents

1. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Peter Loptson Impressions, Ideas, and Ontological Type
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This paper explores the ontological categories in which Hume’s texts seem to justify placing his central terms of art, impression, and idea. The options of impressions/ideas as “acts” (or “states”) and as “objects” (inner mental particulars) are discussed, with reference to interpretations forwarded in the secondary literature as well as to Hume’s texts. Variants of both these options are explored and assessed, as are relations between the categoreal type for impressions and ideas and Hume’s views on the “external world.” I argue as well that there is an interesting, though elusive, alternative which most commentators neglect, but which appears in later empiricist philosophy, viz., that Hume intends impressions/ideas to be a new category of item, intermediate between act and object. I conclude that while some Humean texts suggest such a view, the likeliest interpretation is a version of the “act” or “state” construal.
2. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
James Van Cleve “Distinction of Reason” is an Incomplete Symbol
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In Treatise 1.1.7, Hume poses the problem of how to understand the “distinction of reason” that figures in the philosophies of the medievals, Descartes, and the Port Royalists. The problem in a nutshell is that a distinction of reason is supposed to be a distinction in thought between things that are inseparable in reality; yet according to Hume’s own principles, whatever things are distinct are separable in thought and therefore also in reality. It follows that things inseparable in reality should be neither distinguishable in thought nor distinct, period, so a distinction of reason ought on Hume’s principles to be impossible. Yet Hume goes on to try to make room for it, to the consternation of many commentators. I argue that he can indeed make room for it; the key is to recognize that ‘distinction of reason’ is an incomplete symbol.
3. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Peter Millican Hume’s Pivotal Argument, and His Supposed Obligation of Reason
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Treatise 1.4.1 argues that whenever we assess our probability of error, “we are oblig’d by our reason” to consider also the probability of error in that assessment, leading to a fatal regress which—but for irresistible nature—would extinguish all belief. The argument plays a huge role in the Treatise, and has recently attracted many defenders, rejecting the previously standard objection that iterated reflection need not imply reduction of probability. This paper, however, presses a more fundamental objection—that there is no obligation of reason to iterate in the first place—something obscured by the failure of previous analyses to focus on specific examples. Unlike the Treatise, Hume’s Enquiry of 1748 is richly illustrated with examples, making it likely that he himself would have encountered these problems. And there are traces in the Enquiry of a fundamental change of view, corroborating the significance of this argument for his philosophical development.
4. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Dejan Šimković Hume’s Use of “Moral Distinctions” in Treatise 3.1.1
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There is widespread scholarly disagreement concerning Hume’s use and understanding of the term “moral distinctions.” While commentators offer a range of interpretations of this term, there has been little attempt to understand the diverse range of meanings attributed to it, or to adjudicate between them. The present paper attempts to contribute to the understanding of Hume’s position on the nature and origin of moral distinctions by filling this lacuna. I argue that Hume uses “moral distinctions” in two senses. First, in the context of his refutation of the moral rationalist position on moral distinctions, Hume uses “moral distinctions” to refer to the demonstrable, eternal, and necessary relations that obtain between, and apparently exist separately from, moral qualities. And second, in the context of his account of the role that sentiment plays in moral perception, Hume uses “moral distinctions” to refer to the differences that we uniformly experience when evaluating an object, between qualities that are both distinctively moral and the strict opposites of one another. For example, the difference between moral good and evil, or the distinction between particular virtues and vices, such as the difference between justice and injustice, or between gratitude and ingratitude, and the like. Hume explains the uniformity in the way we experience and talk about moral distinctions, by locating their origin in the same sentiment or impression that, in his understanding, explains how we perceive and, consequently, have ideas of moral qualities themselves. This enables Hume not just to replace the rationalist’s moral epistemology, but also to reject Hobbesian skepticism about “the reality of moral distinctions” (EPM 1.2; SBN 169–70), despite arguing that “moral distinctions” does not represent anything external to the mind.
5. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Emily Kelahan Naturalness and Artificiality in Humean Virtue Theory
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In this paper I explore a parallel between Hume’s virtue ethics and his virtue epistemology. Hume makes a categorical distinction between natural and artificial moral traits. Though it is less conspicuous, I argue that he draws a similar distinction between natural and artificial intellectual traits. In both the moral and the intellectual case, I argue that artificial traits are vulnerable to vice in a way that natural traits are not. Examination of this parallel opens the possibility of understanding Hume as a comprehensive virtue theorist while also raising questions about the distinction between moral and intellectual virtue in Hume’s philosophy.
book review
6. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Robert Gressis Kant, Hume, and the Interruption of Dogmatic Slumber
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7. Hume Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Philip A. Reed Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals
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