Hume Studies

Volume 48, Issue 1, April 2023

Mark Windsor
Pages 7-29

Not Circular
Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste"

One of the gravest charges that has been brought against Hume’s essay “Of the Standard of Taste” is that of circularity. Hume is accused of defining good art in terms of “true judges,” and of defining true judges in terms of their ability to judge good art. First, I argue that Hume avoids circularity since he offers a way of identifying good art that is logically independent of the verdict of true judges. Second, I argue that this clarifies an enduring puzzle in the scholarship on Hume’s essay: why he appears to offer not one, but two standards of taste. Hume’s standard does not consist of general rules; however, Hume needs general rules to establish that some individuals’ tastes are more “delicate” than others’.