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Res Philosophica

Volume 92, Issue 3, July 2015
Ethical and Religious Themes in Humean Philosophy

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Displaying: 1-8 of 8 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Elizabeth S. Radcliffe Strength of Mind and the Calm and Violent Passions
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Hume’s distinction between the calm and violent passions is one whose boundaries are not entirely clear. However, it is crucial to understanding his motivational theory and to identifying an unusual virtue he calls “strength of mind,” the motivational prevalence of the calm passions over the violent. In this paper, I investigate the parameters of these passions and consider the constitution of strength of mind and why Hume regards it as an admirable trait. These are provocative issues for two reasons. First, it seems as though one might exhibit the prevalence of calm over violent passions, even if the prevailing calm passions are vicious traits of character. Second, the natural virtues for Hume are non-moral motives that garner approval for the effects they tend to produce. But strength of mind is unique in that it is not defined in terms of a particular motive, but in terms of the causal force (strength) of any number of motives in competition with others.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Katharina Paxman The Movement of Feeling and the Genesis of Character in Hume
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This paper is concerned with the question of how affect, or feeling, moves through and ultimately shapes the Humean mental landscape, with particular focus on the question of how this constantly changing geography of feeling results in the kind of enduring dispositions and tendencies necessary for the existence of character, an essential component of Hume’s moral philosophy. Section 1 looks at the concept of ‘attending emotion’ and outlines two important principles of mind Hume introduces in Book II of the Treatise: the Principle of Attending Emotion, and the Principle of Affective Conversion. Section 2 explores the origin of enduring tendency and disposition by considering the calm and violent passions in conjunction with these principles. The paper concludes with some preliminary suggestions of how, on this picture, an individual might come to take an active hand in shaping her own character.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Glen Pettigrove Re-Conceiving Character: The Social Ontology of Humean Virtue
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Most twenty-first century ethicists conceive of character as a stable, enduring state that is internal to the agent who possesses it. This paper argues that writers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not share this conception: as they conceived of it, character is fragile and has a social ontology. The paper goes on to show that Hume’s conception of character was more like his contemporaries than like ours. It concludes with a look at the significance of such a conception for current debates about the place of character in ethics.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Yumiko Inukai The World of the Vulgar and the Ignorant: Hume and Nagarjuna on the Substantiality and Independence of Objects
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There are remarkable parallels between Hume and Nagarjuna in their denial of substantiality and independence in objects and their subsequent attitude toward our ordinary world. Acknowledging a deep-rooted human tendency to take objects as independent entities, they both argue that there is nothing intrinsic in those objects that make them unitary and independent, and that those characters are, strictly speaking, merely fictitious, mental constructs. They nonetheless affirm the existence of our ordinary world as real. Although their main purposes of the philosophical inquiry are different (epistemological for Hume, and soteriological for Nagarjuna), their accounts of the nature of our world allow us to accept it in the way we ordinarily believe with the deeper understanding of it. It is only in this world where we think, act, and interact with others that an epistemology grounded in human sentiment and experience (for Hume) or humans liberation (for Nagarjuna) is possible.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Helen De Cruz The Relevance of Hume's Natural History of Religion for Cognitive Science of Religion
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Hume was a cognitive scientist of religion avant la lettre. His Natural History of Religion (1757 [2007]) locates the origins of religion in human nature. This paper explores similarities between some of his ideas and the cognitive science of religion, the multidisciplinary study of the psychological origins of religious beliefs. It also considers Hume’s distinction between two questions about religion: its foundation in reason (the domain of natural theology and philosophy of religion) and its origin in human nature (the domain of cognitive science of religion).
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
P. J. E. Kail Religion and Its Natural History
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This paper discusses the role of Hume’s “Natural History of Religion” (NHR) in his campaign against the rational acceptability of religious belief by discussing and rebutting some objections have been lodged to my previous presentations of my reading of the NHR. In earlier work I argued that the causal account of religious belief offered therein, if accepted as the best account, rationally destabilizes that belief. By this, I mean that acknowledging that the account is the best of the belief provides a reason to suspend the belief unless and until some further epistemic justification is given for that belief. As such, the account leaves those who think that the belief can be given some epistemic justification unmoved, but has a particular force against the fideist who holds that justification is not required. In this paper I show in more detail than in previous work its relevance to a particular form of fideism, and rebut objections to my reading offered by Jennifer Marušic.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
A. E. Pitson "More Affected than Real": Hume and Religious Belief
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Hume’s remark that “the conviction of religionists, in all ages, is more affected than real” is considered in relation to various monotheistic beliefs against the background of his account of belief more generally. The issue arises as to what Hume means by characterizing the assent associated with religious belief as an operation between disbelief and conviction. According to Hume, the obscurity of the ideas involved in the religious convictions of the “vulgar” prevents them from achieving the force and vivacity characteristic of belief. As for philosophers, their idea of God encounters the problem of evil and the question of whether it is possible for the deity to possess moral virtues. Even the ascription to God of natural attributes takes us beyond what may meaningfully be imagined. Finally, the philosophical idea of God as a principle of order provides a form of theistic belief that is only verbally different from atheism.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 3
Stanley Tweyman Belief, Morality, and Reasoning in Hume's Philosophy
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Although Hume insists that belief does not involve a separate impression, select scholars have argued that, as Hume’s thoughts on belief developed, he either was moving toward, or adopted, the impression of reflection view of belief. In my paper, I attempt to show that neither of these views is correct. As well, I argue that there is a role for distinctions of reason in belief, which is similar to the role played by distinctions of reason in Hume’s moral theory, at the point where Hume shows how we form a disinterested standpoint when making moral judgements. In the last part of my paper, I show that Hume develops “Of Scepticism with Regard to Reason” to confirm the force and vivacity view of belief, and to show that force and vivacity has application even with regard to intuitive and demonstrative reasoning.