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Hume Studies

Volume 39, Issue 2, November 2013

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1. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Lorne Falkenstein Hume on the Idea of a Vacuum
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Hume had two principal arguments for denying that we can have an idea of a vacuum, an argument from the non-entity of unqualified points and an argument from the impossibility of forming abstract ideas of manners of disposition. He also made two serious concessions to the opposed view that we can indeed form ideas of vacua, namely, that bodies that have nothing sensible disposed between them may permit the interposition of other bodies without any apparent motion or occlusion and that it is possible to conceive the contents of a room to be evacuated without being compelled to conceive the walls moving into contact. To reconcile these concessions with his arguments and show why we only “falsely imagine” that we can form the idea of a vacuum (T 1.2.5.14; SBN 58), Hume developed a psychological theory of the perception of “invisible and intangible distance” that has something in common with Berkeley’s account of the perception of outward distance. This paper argues that this theory is both untenable and inconsistent with fundamental Humean principles. It explains why Hume should have rejected the two arguments against the idea of a vacuum and why accepting ideas of vacua would have been more in line with the rest of his thought than attempting to deny that we have any such ideas.
2. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Anders Kraal Anglicanism, Scottish Presbyterianism, and the Irreligious Aim of Hume’s Treatise
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According to Paul Russell’s irreligious interpretation of Hume’s Treatise, the aim of the Treatise is to discredit “Christian theology” generically construed. In this paper, I argue that in seeking to discredit Christian theology in the Treatise, Hume uses an early eighteenth-century Anglican version of Christian theology rather than “Christian theology” in a generic sense as his theological paradigm. Taking Hume’s attacks on “hidden powers” and “the liberty of indifference” as test-cases, I show that whereas Hume’s views on these topics are subversive of the Anglican theology of his day, they are not subversive of other major forms of Christian theology that were current at the time, including the Calvinist theology of the Kirk of Scotland. If this is right, then the immediate theological target of Hume’s Treatise should be deemed narrower than Russell’s irreligious interpretation takes it to be.
3. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Jon Charles Miller Hume’s Citation of Strabo and the Dating of the Memoranda
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In this discussion note, I put forth evidence to argue against the recent assertions made in favor of the late-1740s or early-1750s date for the composition of Hume’s memoranda. In particular, I show that the claims made regarding Hume’s reference to Strabo in the memoranda do not provide evidence for such a late date of composition but, rather, provide evidence for the date of composition being considerably earlier.
4. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Miren Boehm The Normativity of Experience and Causal Belief in Hume’s Treatise
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What is the source of normativity in Hume’s account of causal reasoning? In virtue of what are causal beliefs justified for Hume? To answer these questions, the literature appeals, almost invariably, to custom or some feature thereof. I argue, in contrast, that causal beliefs are justified for Hume because they issue from experience. Although he denies experience the title of justifying reason, for Hume experience has normative authority. I offer an interpretation of the source and nature of the normativity of experience in causal reasoning. I argue that the senses and memory have a special, positive status within the mind in virtue of their force and vivacity, which, on my reading, Hume identifies with a sense of presentness and a strong effect on the mind. Hume dignifies the system of memory and the senses with the title of reality because of these features. Causal beliefs are dignified as “realities” because they issue from reality. However, because the imagination can sometimes enhance the force and vivacity of ideas without the help of experience, Hume appeals to coherence and general rules as well.
5. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Tina Baceski Hume on Art Critics, Wise Men, and the Virtues of Taste
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In this paper I compare two models of expert judgment: the art critic in Hume’s “Of the Standard of Taste” and the “wise man” in “Of Miracles.” The art critic is a true judge of beauty because he has made himself into a person who is optimally receptive to beauty. He possesses the virtues of taste: “Strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice” (“Of the Standard of Taste,” 241). But the virtues of the art critic, I argue, are also those of the “wise man,” the person who consistently “proportions his belief to the evidence” (EHU 10.4; SBN 110). Comparison of these two characters reveals that for Hume the virtues fundamental to the art critic’s critical competence are also epistemic virtues. Hume’s exposition of aesthetic excellences should thus be of interest for virtue epistemology. Because contemporary virtue epistemologists have tended to focus almost exclusively on the relationships between intellectual and moral virtues, Hume offers something new: an account of epistemic virtues based on aesthetic virtues.
book review
6. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Kevin Meeker Louis E. Loeb. Reflection and the Stability of Belief: Essays on Descartes, Hume, and Reid
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7. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Index to Volume 39
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8. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Hume Studies Referees, 2013
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