About this topic
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 1998), 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 2008 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. Ardal 1966 is a classic treatment of Hume's theory of the passions.
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  1. How Wide Is Hume’s Circle?Annette C. Baier - 2006 - Hume Studies 32 (1):113-117.
  2. Galanteria E Polidez. Sobre o Ivanhoe de Scott E David Hume.Marcos Fonseca Ribeiro Balieiro - 2017 - Discurso 47 (2):167-181.
  3. Literatura E Formação Moral Em Jane Austen E David Hume.Marcos Ribeiro Balieiro - 2014 - Discurso 44:145-160.
  4. Morality as a Back-Up System: Hume's View?Marcia Baron - 1988 - Hume Studies 14 (1):25-52.
  5. Slaves of the Passions. [REVIEW]Melissa Barry - 2010 - Hume Studies 36 (2):225-228.
  6. L A Selby-Bigge, David Hume: Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. [REVIEW]James D. Bastable - 1975 - Philosophical Studies 24:314-314.
  7. Le système chez Hume. Une écriture stratégique et théâtrale.Michaël Biziou - 1992 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (2):173 - 199.
  8. Thinking in Time in Hume’s Essays.Scott Black - 2010 - Hume Studies 36 (1):3-23.
    This essay treats the final version of Hume’s Essays, Volume 1, as an artfully shaped whole. Framed by essays on taste that address the interaction of personal and social dynamics, the volume is organized into loose clusters of political and moral essays that share a common pattern of offering multiple approaches to the issues they examine and pursuing a given idea until it reaches a point of excess that generates a salutary correction. This activity circumscribes an inexact range of balance, (...)
  9. David Hume: Prophet of the Counter-Revolution.Laurence L. Bongie - 1968 - Philosophy 43 (164):179-180.
  10. David Hume, Prophet of the Counter-Revolution.Laurence L. Bongie - 1965 - Clarendon Press.
  11. Hume’s Morality: Feeling and Fabrication. [REVIEW]Sophie Botros - 2008 - Hume Studies 34 (2):289-292.
  12. The Clarendon Edition of Hume’s Treatise: Book 1.John Bricke - 2007 - Hume Studies 33 (2):297-304.
  13. David Hume nach 300 Jahren. Historische Kontexte und systematische Perspektiven.Brosow Frank & Klemme Heiner (eds.) - 2014 - Mentis.
  14. Early Responses to Hume, Vols. 1 and 2: Early Responses to Hume’s Moral, Literary, and Political Writings. [REVIEW]Charlotte Brown - 2007 - Hume Studies 33 (1):196-208.
  15. Knud Haakonssen, Ed. The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy. [REVIEW]Stephen Buckle - 2014 - Hume Studies 40 (2):305-309.
  16. Projection and Realism in Hume’s Philosophy. [REVIEW]Stephen Buckle - 2008 - Hume Studies 34 (1):163-165.
  17. El peculiar realismo moral de David Hume.Miguel A. Badía Cabrera - 2007 - Diálogos. Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 42 (90):51-80.
  18. Algunas precisiones acerca de la filosofía moral experimental de David Hume.Sofia Calvente - 2017 - Manuscrito 40 (3):51-86.
  19. David Hume, William Wordsworth, and Environmental Sentiment.Mac Campbell - 2008 - Studies on Humanities and Ecology in Taiwan 10 (2).
  20. Scottish Sentimentalism: Hume and Smith against moral egoism.María Alejandra Carrasco - 2018 - Veritas 39:55-74.
    Resumen Los filósofos sentimentalistas escoceses David Hume y Adam Smith proponen dos estrategias distintas para restringir las tendencias egoístas de la naturaleza humana. A pesar de las evidentes similitudes de sus propuestas morales, Smith encuentra dentro del ser humano la capacidad para transformar sus pasiones parciales y aspirar hacia ideales de perfección. El sentimentalismo de Hume, en cambio, no permite la autotransformación de la persona, y debe apoyarse en convenciones sociales para manipular y redirigir los impulsos egoístas desde fuera. Ambos (...)
  21. Una moral de la opacidad: Hume y la virtud del ocultamiento.Juan Samuel Santos Castro - 2018 - Isegoría 58:55-76.
    Are there any conditions under which to justify deliberately hiding or manipulating the expression of our opinions, emotions or character traits in front of others? this article examines David Hume’s answer to this question by discussing the practices that he calls good manners and impudence. the conclusion is that Hume’s description of the moral point of view allows for two conditions under which practices of opacity such as good manners and impudence can be morally assessed.
  22. Hume’s Moral Sentiments As Motives.Rachel Cohon - 2010 - Hume Studies 36 (2):193-213.
    Do the moral sentiments move us to act, according to Hume? And if so, how? Hume famously deploys the claim that moral evaluations move us to act to show that they are not derived from reason alone. Presumably, moral evaluations move us because they are, or are the product of, moral sentiments. So, it would seem that moral approval and disapproval are or produce motives to action. This raises three interconnected interpretive questions. First, on Hume’s account, we are moved to (...)
  23. A Very Brief Summary of Hume’s Morality: Feeling and Fabrication.Rachel Cohon - 2008 - Hume Studies 34 (2):253-256.
  24. Hume’s Difficulty with the Virtue of Honesty.Rachel Cohon - 1997 - Hume Studies 23 (1):91-112.
  25. Hume's Moral Psychology and Contemporary Psychology, Edited by Philip Reed and Rico Vitz. [REVIEW]Angela Coventry - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  26. Critical Review of Recent Introductory Works on Hume. [REVIEW]Angela Coventry - 2010 - Hume Studies 36 (2):215-223.
  27. Reflecting Subjects: Passion, Sympathy, and Society in Hume's Philosophy by Jacqueline A. Taylor.Remy Debes - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (3):567-568.
    In this entry to David Hume scholarship, Jacqueline Taylor brings together a line of interpretation she has been developing over several years, connecting Hume's theory of the passions to what she calls Hume's "social theory." Through a concise, well-organized argument, the book offers insights into how one of the Enlightenment's most famous and gifted thinkers conceptualized social roles and institutions, the ways we navigate these roles and institutions, and how all this connects to the kind of creature we are. It (...)
  28. Hume's Hobbism and His Anti-Hobbism.Daniel E. Flage - 1992 - Hume Studies 18 (2):369-382.
  29. Of Liberty and Necessity: The Free Will Debate in Eighteenth-Century British Philosophy. [REVIEW]A. E. Pitson - 2006 - Hume Studies 32 (1):187-191.
  30. Projectionism, Realism, and Hume's Moral Sense Theory.A. E. Pitson - 1989 - Hume Studies 15 (1):61-92.
  31. Hume on Promises and Their Obligation.Antony E. Pitson - 1988 - Hume Studies 14 (1):176-190.
  32. Hume and Hutcheson on Cicero's ‘Proof Against the Stoics’.Jeff Edwards - 2017 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 15 (2):175-195.
    This article takes its cue from an intriguing passage in Hume's September 1739 letter to Hutcheson. After appealing to what Cicero proves ‘against the Stoics’ in book four of De finibus, Hume indicates that he and Hutcheson are in some respect opposed to one another as far as their views on virtue and moral motivation are concerned. While this may seem surprising, given the similarities between their approaches to the foundations of morals, careful analysis of Cicero's criticism of Stoic ethics (...)
  33. Vicious Virtues: The Role Of Naturalism and Irreligion in Hume's Treatise.Elalouf Samuel - unknown
    In his Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume offers an elaborate account of the origins of property and suggests modesty has a similar origin. In this paper, I draw on Hume’s discussions of modesty and property to extract his account of the origin of modesty. Modesty and property are ultimately regulated by pride and selfishness according to Hume. I argue that these choices of passions, as the grounds of their related virtues, express an intentionally irreligious and anti-Christian approach. Furthermore, I (...)
  34. Hume on the Morality of Princes.Joseph Ellin - 1988 - Hume Studies 14 (1):111-160.
  35. Without Gallantry and Without Jealousy: The Development of Hume's Account of Sexual Virtues and Vices.Lorne Falkenstein - 2015 - Hume Studies 41 (2):137-170.
    "If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human affairs; we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil."In this paper I argue that Hume's thought on comportment between the sexes developed over time.2 In the Treatise, he was interested in explaining why the world seeks to impose artificial virtues of chastity and modesty on women and (...)
  36. Terence Penelhum: Themes in Hume: The Self, The Will, Religion.A. Flew - 2001 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 9 (2):374-376.
  37. Passion and Value in Hume's Treatise. [REVIEW]Antony Flew - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (9):257-260.
  38. The Concept of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory.Timothy P. Foley - 1981
  39. Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment by Ryu Susato.Peter S. Fosl - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (1):165-166.
    This rich and detailed volume reads David Hume as a skeptic, but Susato is less interested in dissecting Hume’s particular skeptical arguments and more concerned with what he regards as Hume’s larger skeptical vision as it relates to his social and political thought. Susato argues against the idea that Hume’s historical work is independent of his philosophical skepticism; and he opposes the idea that Hume ought best to be read as a conservative thinker. Broadly speaking, the question Susato addresses is (...)
  40. The Genesis of Disinterested Benevolence.Paul Friedmann - 1878 - Mind 3 (11):404-410.
  41. Jane Austen and Eighteenth-Century Courtesy Books.Penelope Joan Fritzer - 1997
  42. Associative Virtues and Hume's Narrow Circle.Erin Frykholm - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (1):612-637.
    This article offers a straightforward reading of Hume's ‘narrow circle’ – the boundary employed to define those with whom we sympathize in assessing an agent's moral character – that follows from a more careful look at his account of virtue. Hume employs a principle that can be understood as a virtue ethical equivalent of associative obligation, which thereby delimits the boundaries of this circle. This reading avoids concerns about unjustified partiality, moral blind spots, and demandingness, and shows a clear path (...)
  43. Narrative and History in Hume's Moral Epistemology.Erin Frykholm - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (1):21-50.
    Hume's moral epistemology, focusing on the elevation of character tratis, requires what in contemporary terms is a narrative structure. The moral significance of an action can only be understood when considered in relation to an agent's past actions, beliefs, intentions, social environment and situation. Three features of Hume's writings support this claim: his accounts of moral evidence, of the object of moral evaluation, and of the value of history. Without recognizing the role of narrative, the standard view of Hume's moral (...)
  44. Lies, Passions, and Illusions: The Democratic Imagination in the Twentieth Century.François Furet, Christophe Prochasson & Deborah Furet (eds.) - 2014 - University of Chicago Press.
    Shortly after his death in 1997, the New York Review of Books called him “one of the most influential men in contemporary France.” Lies, Passions, and Illusions is a fitting capstone to this celebrated author’s oeuvre: a late-career ...
  45. 'Des Sentiments Si Nôtres': Stylisation and Dramatisation in the Bucoliques of André Chénier.D. R. Gamble - 2002 - Lumen: Selected Proceedings From the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 21:131.
  46. A Panoramic Overview of British Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics.Montserrat Martínez García - 2013 - Cultura 10 (2):93-112.
    The aim of this paper is not to focus on a particular thematic issue of Aesthetics, offering an exhaustive approach of it, but to display a broader map allowingto capture the essence of this topic from an overall perspective. To achieve it, I have paid attention to a number of points that will help to place Aesthetics in historical terms in the context of 18th century Great Britain. In this vein, I have addressed certain pillars deemed crucial in understanding Aesthetics, (...)
  47. The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy.Aaron Garrett (ed.) - 2014 - Routledge.
    The Eighteenth century is one of the most important periods in the history of Western philosophy, witnessing philosophical, scientific, and social and political change on a vast scale. In spite of this, there are few single volume overviews of the philosophy of the period as a whole. _The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy _is an authoritative survey and assessment of this momentous period, covering major thinkers, topics and movements in Eighteenth century philosophy. Beginning with a substantial introduction by Aaron (...)
  48. Hume as Man of Reason and Woman's Philosopher.Don Garrett - 2004 - In Lilli Alanen & Charlotte Witt (eds.), Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 171.
  49. Precis of Cognition and Commitment in Hume's PhilosophyCognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy.Don Garrett - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):185.
  50. Mind and Morality: An Examination of Hume's Moral Psychology.Don Garrett & John Bricke - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (1):132.
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