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Summary Hume's ethics emphasizes our common humanity and our capacity to develop moral sensibilities in response to varying circumstances. He argues that moral distinctions arise from our sympathizing with the effects of character traits on those who have them and the people they interact with. The resulting judgments can have intersubjective validity both because they are rooted in common human nature, and because we can correct our sentimental responses by taking up a "general point of view" in place of a more partial perspective. Hume's aesthetics and politics also reflect the idea that corrected and cultivated passions provide a basis for sound normative judgments. He argues that discerning critics can provide a standard of taste, and that such taste is a significant aspect of human life and character. Although various political parties have claimed him as a supporter, Hume contends that philosophers should be unpartisan. He argues against both Lockean and Hobbesian contract theories and limits the right to resist sovereigns to extreme cases.
Key works

Hume's Treatise of Human Nature contains his initial exposition of his theory of the passions and morals. He later published an edited account of the former in A Dissertation on the Passions. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is Hume's mature statement of his moral theory and the work that he believed to be his best. Although the above works include some material relevant to his aesthetics and political philosophy, the Essays, Moral, Political and Literary contain lengthier discussions of these aspects of Hume's thought. Also relevant, particularly to Hume's political views, is his History of England. The Clarendon Press has published critical editions of the Treatise (Norton & Norton 2007), the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Beauchamp 2006), and the Dissertation on the Passions (together with The Natural History of Religion) (Hume 2007). Liberty Fund offers editions of both the Essays (Miller 1987) and History of England (Todd 1983).

Introductions Norton & Taylor 2006 and Radcliffe 2008 include many helpful articles that could serve as introductions to Hume's ethics, aesthetics, and social and political philosophy. Lists of the many book-length treatments of Hume's ethics and politics are available online at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Zalta 2004, open-access) and The Routledge Encylopedia of Philosophy (Craig 1996, subscription required). Townsend 2001 is notable as a comprehensive study of Hume's aesthetics. ÁRdal 1966 is a classic treatment of Hume's theory of the passions.
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  1. Is Hume's Ideal Moral Judge a Woman?Getty L. Lustila - 2017 - Hume Studies 43 (2):79-102.
    Hume refers to women as imaginative, compassionate, conversable, and delicate. While his appraisals of women seem disparate, I argue that they reflect a position about the distinctive role that Hume takes women to have in shaping and enforcing moral norms. On his view, I maintain, women provide us with the ideal model of a moral judge. I claim that Hume sees a tight connection between moral competency and those traits he identifies as feminine. Making this case requires clarifying a few (...)
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  2. Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment by Ryu Susato.Spyridon Tegos - 2021 - Hume Studies 43 (2):103-106.
    Ryu Susato's book is a comprehensive assessment of Hume's thought that defies usual labels and categorizations while operating in an unprecedented interdisciplinary spirit. It is slightly iconoclastic on two levels: from a Hume-studies point of view, Susato contextualizes Hume's oeuvre as a dynamic and ultimately unclassifiable whole within its 18th century context. In this sense, this book is an idiosyncratic follow up on the recent, path-breaking intellectual biography of Hume given by James Harris. In the same vein, 21st century labels (...)
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  3. Impartiality Through ‘Moral Optics’: Why Adam Smith Revised David Hume's Moral Sentimentalism.Christel Fricke & Maria Alejandra Carrasco - 2021 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 19 (1):1-18.
    We read Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments as a critical response to David Hume's moral theory. While both share a commitment to moral sentimentalism, they propose different ways of meeting its main challenge, that is, explaining how judgments informed by sentiments can nevertheless have a justified claim to general authority. This difference is particularly manifest in their respective accounts of ‘moral optics’, or the way they rely on the analogy between perceptual and moral judgments. According to Hume, making perceptual (...)
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  4. Simpatía, naturaleza e identidad en Hume.Fernando Infante del Rosal - 2013 - Eikasia. Revista de Filosofía 51 (51):177-204.
    En su concepción de la simpatía Hume se desligó de sus coetáneos aportando una visión muy especial de este fenómeno, no como afecto o sentimiento, sino como factor y condición para la comunicabilidad de los afectos. La simpatía, lejos de fundarse en un rasgo moral de la naturaleza humana o en el reconocimiento de la semejanza y la proximidad, aparece como factor generador de la identidad y de los afectos, base para la constitución de lo subjetivo y lo intersubjetivo.
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  5. History Will Judge: Hume's General Point of View in Historical Moral Judgment.Serge Grigoriev - 2021 - Journal of Political Philosophy 29 (1):94-116.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  6. Hume's (Ad Hoc?) Appeal to the Calm Passions.Hsueh Qu - 2019 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 4 (100):444-469.
    Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move is that is often criticised as ad hoc (e.g. Stroud 1977 and Cohon 2008). In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume (Stroud 1977), or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction (Bricke 1996). -/- I argue that conceptual accounts face a dilemma: either they render (...)
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  7. Religion and the Perversion of Philosophy in Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.Thomas Holden - 2020 - In Jacqueline Taylor (ed.), Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals. Oxford, UK: pp. 238-254.
    I examine Hume’s claim in the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals that the theistic form of religion tends to distort philosophical thought about the nature of morality. I argue that we can see this thesis as a local application of Hume’s wider claim, intimated in various other works, that theistic religion tends to deform philosophy more generally. Understanding Hume’s account of the general tendency of theistic religion to subjugate and deform philosophy helps us set the moral case in its (...)
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  8. From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity From Locke to Hume by Tim Stuart-Buttle.James A. Harris - 2021 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 59 (1):151-152.
    It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Cicero to British—and not only British—philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For the most part, interest appears to have been much greater in De Officiis, De Finibus Malorum et Bonorum, De Natura Deorum, Academica, De Legibus, and so on, than in the works of Plato or of Aristotle. Yet Cicero was different things to different people. To many, he was the paradigmatic moderate Stoic, critical of the paradoxical excesses of Zeno (...)
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  9. The Philosophical Progress of Hume’s Essays, by Margaret Watkins.Jonathan Cottrell - forthcoming - Mind.
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  10. Shaftesbury on Selfishness and Partisanship.Michael B. Gill - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):55-79.
    In the Introduction to his Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume credits “my Lord Shaftesbury” as one of the “philosophers in England, who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing.” I describe aspects of Shaftesbury’s philosophy that justify the credit Hume gives him. I focus on Shaftesbury’s refutation of psychological egoism, his examination of partiality, and his views on how to promote impartial virtue. I also discuss Shaftesbury’s political commitments, and raise questions about recent interpretations (...)
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  11. David Hume’un Beğeni Standardı I: Farklılıklar ve Standart.Soner Soysal - 2020 - Kilikya Felsefe Dergisi 1 (2):183-196.
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  12. Hume on Virtue, Utility and Morality.Roger Crisp - 2020 - Télos 23 (1-2):9-35.
    In this paper, Roger Crisp offers an account of Hume’s theory of virtue. Crisp claims that the central place of virtue in Hume’s ethics gives Hume an extremely sophisticated position that virtue ethics cannot afford to ignore. In particular, he argues that though Hume’s position may ultimately be described as motive utilitarian, it is both an extremely sophisticated form of motive utilitarianism, and one which may remove the very possibility of non-utilitarian virtue ethics.
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  13. Epicurean in Hume and Original Epicurus.Seo-Yeon Hur - 2019 - Cogito 89:323-348.
  14. David Hume Und Adam Smith. Zur Philosophischen Dimension Einer Freundschaft.Karl Graf Ballestrem - 2005 - In Hans-Peter Schütt & Christel Fricke (eds.), Adam Smith Als Moralphilosoph. Berlin/New York. pp. 331-346.
  15. Five Types of Ethical Theory.C. D. Broad - 1930 - New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  16. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1772).David Hume & Editor Beauchamp, Tom L. - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
    This new edition of Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, published in the Oxford Philosophical Texts series, has been designed especially for the student reader. The text is preceded by a substantial introduction explaining the historical and intellectual background to the work and its relationship to the rest of Hume's philosophy. The volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, and a section of supplementary readings.
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  17. La Influencia de la Teoría de Las Pasiones de Hume En El Juicio Moral de Adam Smith.Maria A. Carrasco - 2020 - Filosofia Unisinos 21 (3):268-276.
    The analysis of the irregular moral sentiments that Smith describes in TMS II.iii evidences the enormous influence of David Hume’s theory of passions in the moral theory of his successor, as well as the critical differences between these Scottish philosophers’ moral proposals. Moreover, these atypical situations also allow us to grasp the different parts of Smithian moral judgment, and to exclude – despite Smith’s assertion – the influence of moral luck on these judgments.Keywords: Adam Smith, David Hume, moral judgment, passions, (...)
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  18. The Moral Sense.D. Daiches Raphael - 1947 - Oxford University Press.
  19. David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician.David Fate Norton - 1982 - Princeton University Press.
  20. Hume and Hutcheson.James Moore - 1995 - In M. A. Stewart & John P. Wright (eds.), Hume and Hume's Connexions. pp. 23-57.
  21. A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1978 - Oxford University Press.
  22. Hume. A Collection of Critical Essays.V. C. Chappell (ed.) - 1966 - Macmillan.
  23. From Cicero to the Science of Man: From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity From Locke to Hume, by Tim Stuart-Buttle, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019, 288 Pp., £55 (Hardcover), ISBN-13: 9780198835585. [REVIEW]Paul Sagar - 2021 - History of European Ideas 47 (1):168-174.
  24. Hume, Passion, and Action by Elizabeth S. Radcliffe.Jacqueline Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (4):820-821.
    Elizabeth Radcliffe's book is an important and original contribution to scholarship on Hume's ethics and moral psychology. Throughout, she deftly combines important discussions of Hume's predecessors and contemporaries that serve to contextualize his views with in-depth analysis of Hume's texts. At the same time, she shows an impressive familiarity with more recent scholarship on Hume's and Humean ethics, and deploys much of this recent scholarship to frame her own interpretation of Hume's ethics and moral psychology. That sophisticated and nuanced interpretation (...)
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  25. Morals, Motivation and Convention: Hume's Influential Doctrines. [REVIEW]Rachel Cohon - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (3):401-405.
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  26. Chastity as a Virtue.Hwa Yeong Wang - 2020 - Religions 5 (11).
    This paper analyzes two philosophers’ views on chastity as a virtue, comparing Song Siyeol, a Korean neo-Confucian philosopher of the east, and David Hume, a Scottish philosopher. Despite the importance in and impact on women’s lives, chastity has been understated in religio-philosophical fields. The two philosophers’ understandings and arguments differ in significant ways and yet share important common aspects. Analyzing the views of Song and Hume helps us better understand and approach the issue of women’s chastity, not only as a (...)
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  27. Hume’s General Point of View: A Two-Stage Approach.Nir Ben-Moshe - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (3):431-453.
    I offer a novel two-stage reconstruction of Hume’s general-point-of-view account, modeled in part on his qualified-judges account in ‘Of the Standard of Taste.’ In particular, I argue that the general point of view needs to be jointly constructed by spectators who have sympathized with (at least some of) the agents in (at least some of) the actor’s circles of influence. The upshot of the account is two-fold. First, Hume’s later thought developed in such a way that it can rectify the (...)
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  28. Constantine Sandis, Character and Causation: Hume's Philosophy of Action. [REVIEW]Enrico Galvagni - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (3):333-338.
  29. ‘An Authority From Which There Can Be No Appeal’: The Place of Cicero in Hume's Science of Man.Tim Stuart-Buttle - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (3):289-309.
    Hume's admiration for the Roman philosopher and statesman, Cicero, is well-known. Yet scholars have largely overlooked how Hume's interpretation of Cicero – initially as a Stoic, and subsequently as an academic sceptic – evolved with Hume's own intellectual development. Moreover, scholars tend to focus on Hume's debts to Cicero with regard either to his epistemological scepticism or his philosophy of religion. This essay suggests instead that Hume's engagement with Cicero was at its most intense, and productive, when evaluating the relationship (...)
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  30. Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology, Edited by Philip A. Reed and Rico Vitz.Ryan Pollock - 2020 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 17 (4):445-448.
  31. Hume's Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology Ed. By Philip A. Reed and Rico Vitz.Angela Calvo de Saavedra - 2017 - Hume Studies 43 (1):143-145.
    Hume's Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology, edited by Philip A. Reed and Rico Vitz, is a collection of 14 essays intended to explore fruitful connections between David Hume's theory of the passions and ethics and contemporary experimental and cognitive psychology. Although recent moral philosophers have become interested in psychological discoveries in order to refine their normative approach to morality by means of a better empirical understanding of the workings of the mind, this trend has been typically developed by Aristotelian scholarship. (...)
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  32. Anatomist and Painter: Hume's Struggles as a Sentimental Stylist.Michael L. Frazer - 2016 - In Heather Kerr, David Lemmings & Robert Phiddian (eds.), Passions, Sympathy, and Print Culture: Public Opinion and Emotional Authenticity in Eighteenth-Century Britain. New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 223-244.
    When David Hume wrote to Baron de Montesquieu ‘J’ai consacré ma vie à la philosophie et aux belles-lettres’,1 he was not describing himself as having two separate callings. His was a single vocation — one involving the expression of deep thought through beautiful writing.2 This vocation did not come naturally or easily to Hume. He struggled continually to reshape his approach to prose, famously renouncing the Treatise of Human Nature as a literary failure and radically revising the presentation of his (...)
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  33. Natureza E Artifício: Hume Crítico de Hutcheson E Mandeville.Fernão De Oliveira Salles - 2020 - Discurso 50 (1).
    Nosso objetivo geral consiste em situar a filosofia moral de David Hume no debate iniciado pela publicação da Fábula das Abelhas de Bernard Mandeville. Pretende-se com isso, matizar a suposta filiação de Hume à filosofia moral de Francis Hutcheson, em especial, e às filosofias do senso moral de um modo geral. Para tanto, além de uma breve exposição das posições de Mandeville e Hutcheson, buscamos realizar uma análise mais detida da concepção humiana de juízo e sentimentos morais, de maneira a (...)
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  34. From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity From Locke to Hume.Max Skjönsberg - forthcoming - Intellectual History Review:1-4.
  35. Elizabeth Radcliffe, Hume, Passion and Action.Juan S. Santos - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):222-225.
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  36. Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and The Whole Duty of Man.Esther Engels Kroeker - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):117-132.
    I examine, in this paper, the contents of one of the most famous religious texts of the early modern period, The Whole Duty of Man, and I show that Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Man is an attempt to reappropriate and replace the Anglican devotional with his own moral philosophy. Hume would reject the devotional's general methodology, its claims about the foundation of morality, and its list of duties. However, a careful reading of The Whole Duty of Man reveals (...)
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  37. Hume on Pride, Vanity and Society.Enrico Galvagni - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):157-173.
    Pride is a fundamental element in Hume's description of human nature. An important part of the secondary literature on Hume is devoted to this passion. However, no one, as far as I am aware, takes seriously the fact that pride often appears in pairs with vanity. In Book 2 of the Treatise, pride is defined as the passion one feels when society recognizes his connection to a ‘cause’, composed by a ‘subject’ and a ‘quality’. Conversely, no definition of vanity is (...)
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  38. Vernunft allein bewegt nichts. Hume, Kant und die Externalismus-Internalismus-Debatte.Andreas Trampota - 2012 - In Maria Schwartz Godehard Brüntrup (ed.), Warum wir handeln – Philosophie der Motivation. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. pp. 41-59.
  39. Notes on Hume’s Views in German Material Ethics of Values.Leszek Kopciuch - 2020 - Ruch Filozoficzny 75 (4):83.
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  40. Hume on the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Value.Tsarina Doyle - 2017 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 20 (1):187-209.
    This essay examines the manner in which Hume challenges the cognitivist and realist intuitions informing our ordinary experience of value by identifying values with mind-dependent feelings and by separating facts from values. However, through a process of interpretive rehearsal of Hume’s arguments in the first two parts of the paper we find that they come under increasing internal strain, which points, contrary to his initial argument about the irreducibly phenomenal aspects of value experience, to the motivational role of reason and (...)
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  41. Hume’s practice theory of promises and its dissimilar descendants.Rachel Cohon - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Why do we have a moral duty to fulfill promises? Hume offers what today is called a practice theory of the obligation of promises: he explains it by appeal to a social convention. His view has inspired more recent practice theories. All practice theories, including Hume’s, are assumed by contemporary philosophers to have a certain normative structure, in which the obligation to fulfill a promise is warranted or justified by a more fundamental moral purpose that is served by the social (...)
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  42. Character and Causation: Hume's Philosophy of Action by Constantine Sandis.David Landy - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (2):406-407.
    Constantine Sandis's suggestive new book consists of a series of discrete studies of aspects of Hume's philosophical system that culminate in an argument for the conclusion that "on Hume's view... we are only morally responsible for that subset of actions that have been motivated by our character traits". That final conclusion is the end of a wide-ranging and systematic argument that feels too compressed in the scant one-hundred and twenty-three pages in which it is presented, especially since the philosophical and (...)
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  43. Hume’s Dictum and Metaethics.Victor Moberger - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (279):328-349.
    This paper explores the metaethical ramifications of a coarse-grained criterion of property identity, sometimes referred to as Hume's dictum. According to Hume's dictum, properties are identical if and only if they are necessarily co-extensive. Assuming the supervenience of the normative on the natural, this criterion threatens the non-naturalist view that there are instantiable normative properties which are distinct from natural properties. In response, non-naturalists typically point to various counterintuitive implications of Hume's dictum. The paper clarifies this strategy and defends it (...)
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  44. American Indian Inferiority in Hume's Second Enquiry.Rodney Roberts - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (1):57-66.
    It is fairly well known that Hume added a footnote to his essay ‘Of National Characters’ in which he asserts that all non-white peoples are naturally inferior to white people. Subsequently, he revised the note to assert only that black people are naturally inferior to white people. But while the view expressed in this footnote has been described as ‘shockingly bigoted’, and even as his ‘racial law,’ it is still commonly thought that in Hume's voluminous writings it is apparently just (...)
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  45. Hume and the Guise of the Bad.Francesco Orsi - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (1):39-56.
    In Treatise 2.3.4.5 Hume provides an explanation of why ‘we naturally desire what is forbid, and take a pleasure in performing actions, merely because they are unlawful’. Hume's explanation of this phenomenon has barely received any attention so far. But a detailed analysis bears fruit for both Humean scholarship and contemporary moral psychology. After putting the passage in its context, I explain why desiring and taking pleasure in performing certain actions merely because they are unlawful poses a challenge to Hume's (...)
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  46. Virtue and Happiness: The Humean Connection.Juan Santos - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 14:151-157.
    A marked concern about happiness and an equal preoccupation with the way virtue contributes to such state are key features of virtue ethics. Interpretations that place Hume within the virtue ethics tradition are not rare, although it is common to qualify such affiliation. Admittedly, Hume gives moral pride of place to character traits and uses virtue and vice as central notions; but he emphasizes practices of evaluation, rather than the deliberative experience of the moral agent, and defines virtues and vices (...)
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  47. My Dinner with David.Norman Haughness - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 44:96-102.
    According to the views expressed in this paper, influences unrelated to the conclusions of Immanuel Kant and G. E. Moore respecting what they saw as the appropriate foundation for moral systems seems to have been at work in the reactions of both to the earlier criticisms of David Hume. Building on a "recent meeting" with Hume in a pub on Princes Street in Edinburgh, I develop the suggestion that both Kant and Moore were loyal to traditional notions of an intuited, (...)
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  48. Hume on Revolution.Jeremy Gallegos - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 41:84-91.
    David Hume offers a well conceived plan for the formation of government and its political workings. Furthermore, he grants that in special circumstances the citizens of a particular government may revolt. However, with respect to obedience and disloyalty, Hume gives no formal rules for revolution. We would like something more from Hume regarding revolution and, more specifically, what he considers justified revolution. Some authors, such as Richard H. Dees, find the basis for Hume’s account of justified revolution in his historical (...)
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  49. On Emotion and Value in David Hume and Max Scheler.Marek Pyka - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 40:81-85.
    While some philosophers tend to exclude any significance of emotion for the moral life, others place them in the center of both the moral life and the theory of value judgment. This paper presents a confrontation of two classic positions of the second type, namely the position of Hume and Scheler. The ultimate goal of this confrontation is metatheoretical — particularly as it concerns the analysis of the relations between the idea of emotion and the idea of value in this (...)
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  50. Hume’s Wide Construal of the Virtues.James Fieser - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11:39-45.
    The term "virtue" has traditionally been used to designate morally good character traits such as benevolence, charity, honesty, wisdom, and honor. Although ethicists do not commonly offer a definitive list of virtues, the number of virtues discussed is often short and their moral significance is clear. Hume's analysis of the virtues departs from this tradition both in terms of the quantity of virtues discussed and their obvious moral significance. A conservative estimate of the various virtues Hume refers to in his (...)
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