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Hume Studies

Volume 43, Issue 1, April 2017

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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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