Thomas More and the Christian ‘Superstition’: A Puzzle for Hume’s Psychology of Religious Belief

Modern Schoolman 88 (3-4):223-244 (2011)
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In this paper, I examine one particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. More specifically, I attempt to elucidate his account of what I call the sustaining causes of religious belief—that is, those causes that keep religious beliefs alive in modern human societies. In attempting to make some progress at clarifying this element of Hume’s psychology, I examine one particular ‘experiment’—namely, the case of Thomas More, a man who is, by Hume’s own admission, a person of remarkable virtue. I contend that the most salient Humean explanations of More’s religious convictions are implausible but that Hume has at his disposal three more plausible hypotheses to account for More’s faith. I conclude, however, by suggesting that these hypotheses alone are insufficient to solve the puzzle More poses for this particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief.



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Rico Vitz
Azusa Pacific University

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