Lorenzo Greco
Oxford University
If one looks for the notion of conscience in Hume, there appears to be a contrast between the loose use of it that can be found in his History of England, and the stricter use of it Hume makes in his philosophical works. It is my belief that, notwithstanding the problems Hume’s philosophy raises for a notion such as conscience, it is possible to frame a positive Humean explanation of it. I want to suggest that, far from corresponding to a mental power or to a faculty of some sort, conscience for Hume can be understood as a reflective form of self-surveying. This becomes apparent if the discussion about conscience as presented in A Treatise of Human Nature is integrated with other notions Hume introduces in An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals when discussing the case of the ‘sensible knave’, such as those of inward peace of mind, consciousness of integrity, and reflection on one’s own conduct. To further explicate my line of argument, I shall also contrast Hume’s conclusions with some arguments presented by other authors in this regard, such as Bernard Mandeville and Joseph Butler.
Keywords Hume  Conscience  Reflection  Sensible knave  Mandeville  Butler
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1080/09608788.2016.1249334
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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.Tom L. Beauchamp (ed.) - 1999 - Oxford University Press.

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