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Hume Studies

Volume 39, Issue 1, April 2013

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Displaying: 1-6 of 6 documents

1. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Cass Weller Hume on the Normativity of Practical Reasons
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It is well known that Hume both denies that reason in the strict sense is practical and claims that no end an agent adopts is contrary to reason. Many conclude from this that Hume denies that there are action-guiding reasons and that a person can be blamed for failing to do what she acknowledges as means to her end or for remaining indifferent to the acknowledged means to her end. This paper argues against this reading by mining the texts for Hume’s account of the relation between desiring an end and willing the means to that end. The first part of the paper argues that for Hume, willing an end and willing the acknowledged means to that end form a complex of passions of a sort, so that it is not within human nature to remain indifferent to the acknowledged means to an end. In this sense, willing a certain action is a necessary response to having an end in view and believing that that action will achieve it. In the second part, the paper argues that for Hume, when willing an action as a means to an end is defeated by a contrary desire, the agent is blameworthy for having acted contrary to reason in a sense to be defended. Calm passions, while often confused with reason, play some of the roles ascribed to reason. For example, an agent sets ends through calm passions, thereby imputing value to objects that would otherwise remain objects of mere desire. It is through calm passions that we endorse the objects of lower-level desires as constituting our happiness and good. These features of calm passions help to explain why in choosing to φ as a means of achieving a valued end, an agent acknowledges that φ-ing is valuable in relation to that end and that she ought to φ in the sense that she has a defeasible reason to φ. The calm passions are thus sources of defeasible action-guiding reasons. Strength of mind is a case of managing, in the face of a competing passion, to do what one has reason to do. Its counterpart, weakness, is an example of culpably failing to do what one has reason to do. Here willing the means to a given end is motivationally weaker than a competing desire whose object is either not endorsed or negatively valued. The agent is blameworthy for failing to do what she ought, despite willing it.
2. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Tony Pitson Skeptical Realism and Hume on the Self
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The skeptical realist interpretation of Hume has in recent years become the focus of considerable debate. Many of the arguments both for and against this approach to Hume—in particular, regarding his view of causal power and also the continued and distinct existence of body—have been well rehearsed and explored in the literature. So far, however, the possibility of applying the skeptical realist approach to Hume’s discussion of the self in “Of Personal Identity” (T 1.4.6) has not received the same critical attention. In light of the distinctive issues that arise in this context, I shall, in the following, address the skeptical realist interpretation of Hume on the self provided by recent commentators like Edward Craig and Galen Strawson. I attempt to show that there are particular problems with this approach to Hume on the self, and I defend the alternative rejected by it, namely, that Hume presents his bundle or system view in Treatise 1.4.6 as an ontological claim about the nature of the mind or self. I further place this understanding of Hume within the wider context of his views about the different aspects of personal identity and the nature of the mind’s relation to body.
3. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Samuel Clark Hume’s Uses of Dialogue
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What does David Hume do with the dialogue form in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion? I pursue this question in the context of a partial taxonomy of uses for dialogue in philosophy in general, distinguishing uses out of playfulness, for self-concealment, to tame opponents, for self-effacement, for causal operation, for self-discovery, and for dramatizing a political ideal. I argue for Hume’s use of the last two and investigate the expressions of selfhood and politics which these uses reveal in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: for Hume, the self is multiple, and sociable pleasure in company is more important than winning arguments or gaining knowledge. This reading of the Dialogues reveals Hume as aiming to transform our individual and collective self-understanding and action and proposes a more political engagement with his thought generally.
4. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Miriam Schleifer McCormick Hume’s Skeptical Politics
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I argue that there is a unity between Hume’s philosophical reflection and his political views and that many interesting connections can be found that illuminate both aspects of his thought. This paper highlights two of these connections. First, I argue that the conclusions Hume comes to in his political writings are natural outgrowths of his skepticism, a skepticism that recommends limitation of inquiry, modesty, moderation and openness. Most scholars who view Hume’s skepticism as informing his political views see it as supporting a conservative politics, one which is concerned above all to preserve the status quo. I reject the idea that the kind of philosophical skepticism embraced by Hume leads to such conservatism. The second main aspect of the unity of Hume’s thought I discuss concerns that way in which he addresses normative questions in the epistemological and political realms. The question of what resources Hume has to evaluate some beliefs or philosophical systems as better than others, given his skeptical conclusions, is one that has been of central concern for Hume scholars. His evaluations of political systems and governments can be understood in a similar way; the principles we use to evaluate personal beliefs can also be applied in the evaluation of political systems.
5. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Margaret Watkins A Cruel but Ancient Subjugation?: Understanding Hume’s Attack on Slavery
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This essay argues that Hume’s criticism of slavery in “Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations,” despite its contribution to the British Enlightenment’s anti-slavery movement, is not truly abolitionist in character. Hume’s aim was not to put an end to contemporary slave practices or forestall their expansion. Nonetheless, the criticism of slavery proves significant for reasons that transcend the demographic questions of the essay. It supports an argument that Hume develops throughout the Essays and Political Discourses. The conclusion of this argument warns against reverence for either ancient systems or modern progress. Like all forms of factionalism, these divisive tendencies threaten to compromise both our moral sensibility and our rational judgment.
book review
6. Hume Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Sarin Marchetti "Le etiche della virtù. La riflessione contemporanea a partire da Hume" by Alessio Vaccari
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