David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (1):61-83 (2011)
While Hume has often been held to have been an agnostic or atheist, several contemporary scholars have argued that Hume was a theist. These interpretations depend chiefly on several passages in which Hume allegedly confesses to theism. In this paper, I argue against this position by giving a threshold characterization of theism and using it to show that Hume does not confess. His most important confession does not cross this threshold and the ones that do are often expressive rather than assertive. I then argue that Hume is best interpreted as an atheist. Instead of interpreting Hume as a proto-logical positivist and arguing on the basis of Hume’s theories of meaning and method, I show that textually he appears to align himself with atheism, that his arguments in the Dialogues on Natural Religion support atheism, and that this position is most consistent with Hume’s naturalism. But, I hold that his atheism is soft and therefore distinct from that of his peers like Baron d’Holbach—while Hume really does reject theism, he neither embraces a dogmatically materialist position nor takes up a purely polemical stance towards theism. I conclude by suggesting several ways in which Hume’s atheistic philosophy of religion is relevant to contemporary discussions
|Keywords||Hume Theism Atheism Soft atheism Pluralism Expressivism|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Shane Andre (1993). Was Hume an Atheist? Hume Studies 19 (1):141-166.
Stephen Buckle (2007). Hume's Sceptical Materialism. Philosophy 82 (4):553-578.
Nicholas Capaldi (1970). Hume's Philosophy of Religion: God Without Ethics. [REVIEW] International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (4):233 - 240.
Samuel Clark (2009). No Abiding City: Hume, Naturalism, and Toleration. Philosophy 84 (1):75-94.
Timothy M. Costelloe (2004). `In Every Civilized Community': Hume on Belief and the Demise of Religion. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 55 (3):171-185.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
David O'Connor (2010). Spectres of False Divinity: Hume's Moral Atheism. [REVIEW] Hume Studies 36 (2):236-239.
Thomas Holden (2010). Spectres of False Divinity: Hume's Moral Atheism. Oxford University Press.
Don Garrett (2012). What's True About Hume's 'True Religion'? Journal of Scottish Philosophy 10 (2):199-220.
Rich Foley (2006). Unnatural Religion. Hume Studies 32 (1):83-112.
James E. Force (1977). Hume in the Dialogues, the Dictates of Convention, and the Millennial Future State of Biblical Prophecy. Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):131-141.
D. Z. Phillips & Timothy Tessin (eds.) (1999). Religion and Hume's Legacy. St. Martin's Press, Scholarly and Reference Division.
David Fergusson (2013). The Absence of God and Its Contextual Significance for Hume. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 11 (1):69-85.
Paul Neiman (2006). Vivacity and Force as the Source of Hume's Irregular Arguments. Philo 9 (2):131-143.
James Fieser (1995). Hume's Concealed Attack on Religion and His Early Critics. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:431-449.
Paul Russell (1988). 'Atheism' and the Title-Page of Hume's Treatise. Hume Studies 14 (2):408-423.
Thomas Holden (2005). Religion and Moral Prohibition in Hume's 'Of Suicide'. Hume Studies 31 (2):189-210.
Jeffrey Ketland (2002). Hume = Small Hume. Analysis 62 (1):92–93.
Paul Hoffman (2011). Hume on the Distinction of Reason. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (6):1131 - 1141.
Stefanie Rocknak (2002). Husserl’s Phenomenologization of Hume; Reflections on Husserl’s Method of Epoché. Philosophy Today 45 (5):28-36.
Added to index2010-11-18
Total downloads34 ( #56,370 of 1,140,333 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #140,127 of 1,140,333 )
How can I increase my downloads?