Panels, Papers, and Participants (as of May 9)

Book Panels

Tom Beauchamp, Georgetown University, editor of the Clarendon and Oxford Philosophical Texts Editions of An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

Phillip Cummins, University of Iowa

Fred Wilson, University of Toronto

Ian Simpson Ross, University of British Columbia, Chair


John Bricke, University of Kansas, author of Mind & Morality: An Examination of Hume's Moral Psychology

Kate Abramson, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ken Merrill, University of Oklahoma


Jennifer Herdt, University of Notre Dame, author of Religion and Faction in Hume's Moral Philosophy

Jamie Ferreira, University of Virginia

Wade Robison, Rochester Institute of Technology


Terence Penelhum, University of Calgary, author of Themes in Hume

Donald Ainslie, University of Toronto

Dorothy Coleman, College of William and Mary


Paul Russell, University of British Columbia, author of Freedom & Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility

Francis Dauer, University of California, Santa Barbara

Jacqueline Taylor, Tufts University


Symposium: 'A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence' (EHU 10.4)

Graciela De Pierris, Indiana University

Lorne Falkenstein, University of Western Ontario

João Paulo Monteiro, Lisbon

David Owen, University of Arizona, Moderator

Tony Pitson, University of Stirling



Donald L. M. Baxter, University of Connecticut <>

Commentator, David Raynor, University of Ottawa

Hume on the Simplicity of Moments

There are two questions concerning spatial or temporal intervals that Hume does not carefully distinguish: (1) whether there is an infinity of indivisible parts and (2) whether every part has parts. Hume has two arguments for answering "no" to (2). They have not been well understood, nor have they been refuted. The main attacks on these arguments come in Flew's highly influential paper, so I will show that Flew's attacks are misconceived, as are considerations raised by Fogelin and Laird. Ironically, the criticisms show neglect of Cantor's conception of a line as an actual infinity. Along the way I will show that, just as time is an abstraction, so a moment is too, and I will rebut the traditional criticism of Hume's account of arriving at an idea of time -- that one needs already to have the idea of time in order to get it in the way Hume describes.


Dario Castiglione, University of Exeter <>

Hume's Philosophical Passion

Is a passion for philosophy and oxymoron? Philosophical activity, in its more usual sense, is conceived as a form of reasoning more than the product of our passions. So, what is a 'philosophical passion'? Hume's readers may not be surprised by this question. In the Treatise and in his Dissertation on the Passions, he suggested that the drive some people have for abstract arguments and philosophizing was just a form of human curiosity. There was more than a touch of direct experience in Hume's argument. At the end of Book I of the Treatise, he famously described the natural and open disposition of the scholar to enquire into the principles of judgement and taste, as something that he himself acutely experienced. Faced with the many unanswered questions and doubts over which scholars disputed, Hume conceived an ambition to contribute to the instruction of mankind and in so doing to acquire for himself enduring acclaim: 'These sentiments spring up naturally in my present disposition; and shou'd I endeavour to banish them, by attaching myself to any other business or diversion, I feel I shou'd be a loser in point of pleasure.' (Treatise, SBN 271) Curiosity, ambition and pleasure move the philosopher at work (in the closet). Philosophical research itself, then, seems to proceed from the springs of passion and ultimately to find its justification in hedonistic values. But what kind of passion is curiosity? What are its pleasures, its effects, and its limits? By addressing these questions, Hume's analysis of philosophical curiosity turns out to be a subtle discussion of philosophical liberty and tolerance in society.


John Churchill, Hendrix College <>

Commentator, Stanley Tweyman, York University

Hume on the 'Natural' in Religion

Hume's analysis of causation hinges on the distinction between natural and philosophical relations of ideas. As a natural relation alone causation "produces a union among our ideas" (Treatise, SBN 94) and affords the possibility of reasoning. Nature provides in the operation of the mind a cause of belief which Hume, in his mitigated scepticism, accepts as inevitable and true, though ungrounded in reason. Natural inclination prevents an unmitigated scepticism which Hume acknowledges as incredible and unlivable. But in the case of religion, our natural inclinations to believe lead us into superstition. Is Hume inconsistent, casting natural credulity in the former cases as the necessary mitigant of over-reliance on reason alone, and in the latter as a source of error?

No, Hume is consistent. The term 'natural' is used different ways in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and in The Natural History of Religion. In the latter the term refers to the origins of religious belief in human nature, opposing 'natural' to 'rational.' In this sense the natural operation of the mind includes variable passions in the context of ignorance, as well as variable imaginative projections -- as distinct from simple, uniform belief based on common experience. Hume can consistently distinguish between beliefs arising naturally in the mind directly without motivation or variation due to the immediate impact of experience, and beliefs whose origin, while still natural, depends on the variable particulars of ignorance, and on objects of passionate imagination.


Rachel Cohon, SUNY, Albany <>

The Reality of Moral Distinctions

At the start of the second Enquiry, Hume says: "Those who have denied the reality of moral distinctions, may be ranked among the disingenuous disputants" (EPM 1.2, SBN 169). Presumably Hume does not so rank himself. How can we construe Hume's theory of moral evaluation consistently with this passage?

It is a consequence of some interpretations of Hume's moral epistemology that on Hume's view there are such things as moral beliefs that may be warranted, and there are some legitimate causal inferences from factual premises to conclusions about virtue and vice. Let us call interpretations with such consequences cognitivist. Cognitivist interpretations of Hume's moral epistemology are typically construed by their readers (and often by their authors) as also attributing to Hume a realist metaphysics of value. After all, if we can form warranted beliefs about ethical qualities, mustn't they be real? I sketch my own cognitivist interpretation, the Moral Sensing View, and consider whether, on that view, Hume is committed to the reality of good and evil, vice and virtue. I argue that on the Moral Sensing View, while Hume makes at least one negative metaphysical commitment about moral qualities (they are distinct from reasonableness and unreasonableness), he maintains a scrupulous agnosticism about what they are and whether they have any reality outside the mind. Indeed, on the Moral Sensing View, an assortment of metaphysical views about value are consistent with Hume's epistemology of ethics. And this is precisely what Hume had in mind.


Timothy Costelloe, Emory University <>

Commentator, Mary Mothersill, Barnard College

General Standards in Hume's Approach to Morals

This paper concentrates on the role of "general standards" in Hume's moral philosophy as a way of understanding the tension various commentators have noted in his simultaneous appeal to sentiments and the "moral point of view." It does so by considering Peter Strawson's claim that Hume's approach commits him to "non-reductive" naturalism, one of the two standpoints which Strawson takes as mutually exclusive ways of viewing moral conduct. On Strawson's view, this rules out a Humean response to the question of "correct standpoints." It is argued, however, that Strawson mis-characterizes Hume's approach. Rather than being implicated in the conflict, Hume's account of "general standards" answers the very question Strawson raises and does so, moreover, with a "relativizing move" of the sort Strawson employs against Hume's putative position. Drawing on "A Dialogue," this contention is defended by detailing a Humean response to subjectivism and relativism. Rather than leading to either position, it is argued, Hume's "sentimentalism" shows in what sense standards are "real" and "general." The paper concludes by emphasizing an important difference between the relativizing moves of Strawson and Hume, respectively.


Angela Coventry, University of North Carolina <>

Commentator, Phillip Cummins, University of Iowa

Locke, Hume and the Idea of Power

This paper disputes the "standard reading" of the relationship between John Locke's and David Hume's theories of power in external objects. According to the standard reading, Locke anticipates Hume's denial of experience of power in external bodies, although Locke allowed that we experience power when we reflect on the power of the will by which the mind sets the body in motion, while Hume denied experience of the efficacious processes of the mind as well as of the body. I have no quarrel with respect to the latter part of this reading; Hume unmistakably denied that we experience causal power in the mind as well as in external bodies. However, the claim that Locke anticipates Hume's denial of experience of causal powers in external bodies is too strong and needs to be qualified in light of textual evidence which suggests that the observation of activity amongst external objects is a crucial component of how we come to form the idea of power, even though it provides an obscure idea of power in external bodies. Moreover, I argue that Hume's own interpretation and subsequent rejection of Locke's theory of power in external bodies creates further difficulties for the standard interpretation. Lastly, I offer a provisional suggestion as to how one ought to understand the relationship between Locke and Hume's theories of power in external bodies.


Graciela De Pierris, Indiana University <>

Commentator, James Dye, Northern Illinois University

Hume on Causal Inference and Causal Necessity

Contrary to the "vehicle" interpretation of Hume's skepticism, I argue that Hume's sceptical arguments concerning causation are not exclusively directed against the pretensions of a priori reason. From a radical sceptical standpoint Hume raises doubts regarding the very inductive methods and belief in the necessity of causal laws which he endorses in common life and in his own Newtonian science of human nature. Using this approach, I also argue against the "sceptical realist" interpretation according to which Hume believes there is a material necessity, independent of our minds and hidden forever from us, that explains causal connections. In my view, Hume's positive notion of necessary connection does not amount to a metaphysical realist view, but is instead an epistemological conception of causal necessity. The significance of our non-sceptical attribution of causal necessity to nature is parasitic on the normative force of Newtonian inductive methods in common life and science.


Peter Graham, Saint Louis University <>

Commentator, Patrick Rysiew, University of British Columbia

Locke and Hume on Testimony and the Grounds of Belief

A theory of testimony should answer two questions: first, why do we believe what we are told? and second, why are we justified in believing what we are told? An individualist holds that we accept what another has said because we believe that the other said that such and such and because we believe that other is trustworthy. An individualist also holds that we are justified in relying on another only if we have reason to believe that the other is trustworthy. An individualist gives an inferentialist account of testimony. It is commonly thought that Locke and Hume are both individualists concerning testimony. I argue that this common thought is only half right. Regarding the first question, Locke thinks reason is involved, but regarding the second, it is not true that we need a reason to believe that the other is trustworthy. Hume, on the other hand, does not think reason is involved in acceptance, but does think that it is involved in justification.


Livia Guimaraes, Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) <>

Commentator, Margaret Atherton, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

The Gallant and the Philosopher

This paper discusses Hume's image of women as cognizers by means of an analysis of Hume's concept of "Gallantry," mostly on the basis of some essays, particularly "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences" -- where gallantry is explicitly mentioned -- and "Of Essay Writing" and "Of the Study of History" -- where I argue gallantry to be implicitly assumed. In appearance, gallantry constitutes a mere set of social conventions in modern societies -- it applies to the moral sphere of life, with apparently mixed results. Although it promotes pleasant conviviality, yet it retains a residue of sexism, in the shape of male condescension towards women. My hypothesis is that in reality for Hume gallantry is a natural passion, of both moral and intellectual consequence in the betterment of women's standing, not sexist at all. Gallantry endows women with moral agency and equality, by effecting a relaxation of the rigid rules of female chastity. It endows women with intellectual agency as well, by granting them full membership in the learned society, to which they gain admittance through the study of history, which I consider a branch of the Humean science of human nature. For Hume, there is a good fit between women's traits and the abilities history demands, which, not coincidentally, are characteristic of the Humean philosopher herself. I conclude the paper defending that the similarities among these three images -- of women, history, and Humean philosophy -- reveal in the image of woman the embodiment of Hume's most cherished cognitive ideals.


James Harris, University of Glasgow <>

Commentator, Gideon Yaffe, University of Southern California

Hume's Reconciling Project and "the common distinction between moral and physical necessity"

In this paper I argue that the distinction between 'moral' and 'physical' necessity is essential to understanding the confidence Hume has in his capacity to reconcile libertarian and necessitarian approaches to the free-will problem. In the first half of the paper I explain the distinction by means of examples of its deployment in the debates between Bramhall and Hobbes, and Clarke and Collins. I then show that Hume throws new light upon the free-will controversy by arguing that the necessity that the necessitarian believes in is really only the moral necessity that the libertarian accepts. Hume's necessitarianism constitutes a radical departure from the doctrine subscribed to by Hobbes and Collins. He refrains from claiming to be able to show that it is impossible for agents to act otherwise than they do. His argument relies only on the regularity of human behaviour and the human disposition to make predictions on the basis of that regularity. The libertarian of Hume's day usually accepts -- indeed, insists upon -- both the regularity and the disposition.


Thomas Holden, Syracuse University <>

Commentator, Rolf George, University of Waterloo

Hume, Infinite Divisibility and Actual Parts Metaphysics

No philosopher has suffered more than Hume from the tendency of recent commentators to impose a purely mathematical reading on the Enlightenment debate over infinite divisibility and the structure of continua. It has become standard practice to read Hume's central argument against infinite divisibility as purely mathematical in nature, and, so interpreted, it altogether justifies the ridicule heaped upon it again and again in the secondary literature. Hume is, it would seem, guilty of the most child-like mathematical mistakes.

But this interpretation of the Enlightenment controversy will not stand scrutiny. The early modern debate over infinite divisibility depends crucially on certain metaphysical theses concerning the 'filling' or 'stuffing' of actual physical continua. It does not simply concern formal mathematical models or constructions of infinite divisibility, divorced from all thought of the stuffing of actual concrete continua. And once we appreciate this, we will see that the charge that Hume commits mathematical blunders is not well founded.


Susan James, Birkbeck College, University of London <>

Hume and the Politics of Esteem and Contempt

Commentators on Hume's analysis of the passions have said a good deal about the role of sympathy in arousing and shaping our emotions. Less attention has been given to a second principle which plays a comparable part in Hume's account: the disposition to compare ourselves with other people and things, and assess them accordingly. This habit is at work when we experience pride or humility, the first passions Hume discusses in Book II of the Treatise, and is also crucial to feelings of admiration, esteem and scorn.

The view that these passions are the fruit of a universal and natural disposition to compare ourselves with others is not original to Hume, and in this paper I begin by examining its provenance. I show that comparison plays a particularly central role in Malebranche's discussion of the passions and that several aspects of Hume's account are best understood as attempts to modify and improve Malebranche's interpretation.

Once Hume's view is seen in this context, questions arise about the political significance of pride and humility. Defenders of absolutism such as Malebranche were alive to the political implications of what they regarded as our natural tendency to esteem and scorn other people. While they allow that these passions have some deplorable consequences, they also appeal to them in order to legitimise a hierarchical social order. This poses a problem for writers like Hume, who share the view that any realisable form of society must be consonant with human passions, but who also wish to defend a mixed constitution in which "the virtues of absolutism and republicanism are combined." If such a political system is to be achievable, there must exist passionate dispositions which have the effect of limiting our feelings of pride and humility, and of sustaining the solidarity that republicanism requires. What are they and how do they operate? I investigate Hume's answers to this question and examine their originality and persuasiveness.


James King, Northern Illinois University <>

Commentator, Cindy Holder, University of Victoria

Taking on Trust: Hume and the Origin of Promises

It is customary to find philosophers saying we trust a promise-maker because we know she is bound by strict obligation. On this approach, by now standard, trust is thought to follow obligation and to be unaccountable apart from it. To this view I contend Hume offers an engaging alternative: for him trust precedes and conditions the institution of promise. To support this contention I present an interpretation of Treatise 3.2.4-5. I construe both trust and obligation as forms of personal relationship between cooperating partners. For one who lacks a shared personal history with another, obligation is an artifice that gives the promiser access to the culture of trust in a manner instant and portable. At the end of the paper I draw out some ramifications of this interpretation of Hume's approach to promise.


Eugenio Lecaldano, University of Rome (La Sapienza) <>

The Passions, Character, and Self in Hume

To understand Hume's reflections on the self and on personal identity one may follow the thread offered by that which he writes on the knowledge that each person has of his own self. By systematically reviewing Hume's observations on the sense of self, one understands how he was able, after the sceptical claims of Book 1 of the Treatise, to move towards the development of a positive conception of the self as passion and as a moral sentiment of one's own character. This paper seeks precisely to shed light on an interpretation of the self in terms of sentiments and moral passions, not only through a close consideration of Hume's texts, but also by engaging some of the recent scholarly literature on the themes of the self and identity in Hume (for example Annette Baier, John Bricke, Pauline Chazan, Don Garrett, Jane L. McIntyre, Marcia Lind, Terence Penelhum, Susan M. Purviance, Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, Paul Russell, Wayne Waxman, Kenneth P. Winkler, and John P. Wright).

Hume himself repeatedly suggests the fertility of an approach to the self which sees it not as a projection of the perceptions or passions of others regarding one's character, but rather as a moral examination of the general traits of one's own self. Hume insists on the centrality of this perspective both in the Conclusion to Book 3 of the Treatise (, as well as in his discussion of the response that could be made to the "sensible Knave" in EPM (9.21-25). It is in the context of the "peaceful reflection on one's own conduct" (EPM 9.25) that we can locate that "general character or present disposition of the person" (Treatise which gives him that "strength of mind" which enables him to prevail over the violent passions. The awareness of the self as a pleasant moral sentiment of the virtuous qualities of one's own character presents itself in Hume as a calm yet powerful passion. Thus understood, the sense of one's self explains that "impression of ourselves . . . always present with us" and of "our consciousness" which "gives us so lively a conception of our own person" (Treatise This, furthermore, is a prerequisite for explaining the mechanism of sympathy. With reference to this moral sentiment of the qualities of one's self, we can develop a more suitable treatment of those elements of continuity, stability, and identity that Hume attributes to personal character – elements to which we must return in order to give meaning to the moral distinctions we make when assessing human conduct.


Rick McCarty, East Carolina University <>

Commentator, Olli Loukola, University of Helsinki

Humean Courage

Hume seems ambivalent over the virtue of courage, and fails in the end to provide a satisfactory account of its foundation. Because courage must be counterpoised to fear, and because passions like fear can be opposed only by impulses of contrary passions, the foundation for a Humean virtue of courage can only be a durable, passionate disposition of the mind. Hume treats courage for men as an artificial virtue comparable to chastity for women, while also finding bases for admiring courage as a natural virtue. In classifying "strength of mind" as a virtue, moreover, Hume inadvertently raises an interesting question whether "strength" may be included among the conditions for traits like courage to qualify as virtues. There appear to be good reasons for recognizing strength as never more than an enhancement to other Humean virtues, and thus for rejecting virtues like strength of mind or strong courage.


Robert G. Meyers, SUNY, Albany <>

Commentator, Miriam McCormick, University of Richmond

Hume: Old and New

The paper discusses some issues arising out of the debate between the Old and New interpretations of Hume. It argues that Humean laws are not regularities between observables, as a positivist interpretation would hold. As a result, he is a realist, as the defenders of the New Hume hold. But I also argue that the case that he is a "causal realist," i.e. that he takes laws to be more than constant conjunctions, has not been made out. The issue is whether he thinks that we can make sense out of a notion of possibility over and above what happens. I suggest that he holds a nominalist theory according to which possibility reduces to actuality, i.e. that 'X is possible' means that X occurs at some time or other. If this is right, he does not think there are de re causal

necessities and so is not a causal realist. These points are developed against a discussion of Hume's two definitions of cause in the Enquiry. The paper claims that one gives a truth condition and the other an assertion condition, but that causes do not reduce to regularities in local experience; Hume holds that they must hold throughout nature.


Peter Millican, University of Leeds <>

Commentator, Robert Fogelin, Dartmouth College

The Logic of Hume's Sceptical Doubts

Hume's famous argument for his "sceptical doubts" concerning induction (most authoritatively presented in Enquiry Section 4) depends very heavily on the logic of his "founded on" relation. For example he argues: (a) that since factual inferences are founded on experience, and reasonings from experience are founded on a uniformity principle (UP), it follows that factual inferences are founded on UP; (b) that since factual inferences are founded on UP, but UP itself is not founded on Reason, it follows that factual inferences are not founded on Reason. This last consequence is Hume's ultimate conclusion; so we must be clear on the meaning of his "founded on" relation not only to understand his argument's logic, but also to understand its point. In this paper I maintain that the logic of Hume's argument only makes sense if "founded on" is interpreted in normative terms, as involving the derivation of rational authority. Such an interpretation of the notion not only explains its obvious logical properties -- e.g. the transitivity manifest in (a) above -- but also solves a previously unremarked puzzle in Hume's logic. This puzzle seems to be insoluble for the alternative interpretations of Hume's argument (e.g. by Garrett, Noonan, and Owen) that have recently become so popular: apparently none of these can explain why Hume should endorse the inference summarised in (b) above. The upshot of this discussion of Hume's logic is that his famous argument must be genuinely sceptical in intent, thus restoring a traditional view that has recently been strongly contested.


Dario Perinetti, McGill University <>

Commentator, Jennifer Herdt, Notre Dame University

Hume and Historical Knowledge

This paper is an attempt to provide an account for Hume's conception of historical knowledge, an account that distinguishes itself from two other competing interpretations. The first of these contends that Hume's account of belief prevents him of giving a satisfactory story about historical beliefs resulting from testimony. The second reading claims that historical knowledge in Hume is the result of the operation of sympathy rather than belief. In the reading I recommend historical knowledge is, for Hume, the result of a co-operation between belief and sympathy. This co-operation works in the following way: on the one hand, the theory of belief provides the epistemic constraints that help us in distinguishing history from mere fiction, myth or tradition; on the other hand, the principle of sympathy provides the normative constraints that are necessary to give a moral or philosophical meaning to history . This second strand of historical knowledge prevents us from falling into an account of history as a series of insignificant events. This interpretation shows that, even within the context of a naturalistic account of historical knowledge, the normative dimension is deeply embedded in historical cognition.


Mark Phillips, University of British Columbia <>

A Short History of Distance: The Enlightenment and its Aftermath in the Writing of History

My paper aims to do three things. First I propose the notion of historical distance as a heuristic that is helpful in understanding some broad features of historical representation. Second, I apply this concept to an analysis of some distinctive characteristics of the historiography of 18th-century Britain. Third, I examine the subsequent reaction against Enlightenment historiography as a shift in norms of distance.

Historical distance is commonly understood as perspective conferred by the passage of time, but in this paper I am exploring the idea that histories and other forms of historical representation not only reflect distance, but also construct it. The construction of distance, I will argue, has cognitive and ideological implications, as well as affective and formal ones. Distance is a variable in historical texts and preferred norms of distance alter over time -- so much so that variations in distance help to mark out major shifts in historical sensibility.

Enlightenment historiography is generally seen as thoroughly aloof and detached. Against this simplification (itself a reflection of the Romantic critique that followed) I want to emphasize the presence in Hume, Smith, and others of a characteristic mix of affective proximity and cognitive distance. This combination, I argue, derives from the way in which these writers combined a sentimentalist view of narrative and a generalizing, "philosophical" style of explanation. By contrast, the early 19th-century, working under the influence of Burkean traditionalism and Romantic conceptions of personality, emphasized both ideological and cognitive proximity, rejecting even the greatest of Enlightenment works as too lofty, too intellectualist, and insufficiently open to sympathy with the past. The Romantic critique later hardened into some of the dogmas of the idealist philosophy of history, and in this form - especially in the influential writings of Dilthey, Collingwood, and Hayden White - it has had a lasting effect on the reception of Enlightenment historiography.


Adam Potkay, The College of William & Mary <>

Commentator, Ian Simpson Ross, University of British Columbia

Hume's 'Supplement to Gulliver': The Medieval Volumes of The History of England

In 1751, as Hume was taking notes for his History of England (1754-62), he wrote to a friend: "I have frequently had it in my Intentions to write a Supplement to Gulliver, containing the Ridicule of Priests." I argue that the medieval volumes of Hume's History are, in effect, that "Supplement," as they offer, in a Gulliverian manner, a sustained ironic deflation of all religious controversy, and most all ecclesiastical enterprise. In ridiculing the priests and popes of medieval history Hume participated, to some degree, in a standard Protestant practice -- an example of which can be found in Swift's allegorical satire on the Roman church in A Tale of a Tub (1704). But, thematically, Hume's ecclesiastical satire is distinguished from Swift's in two crucial regards. First, his "ridicule of priests" offers as its implied norm not the austerities of a purified or moderated Christian practice, but rather the world of material luxury. Second, Hume refuses, in an understated but steady manner, to acknowledge any type of divine inspiration or true religious impulse. From St. Augustine of Canterbury through to Luther and Cromwell, in the History all "religious" behaviour is a cloak for various human motives -- including, almost always, ambition and, quite often, avarice as well.


Elizabeth Radcliffe, University of Delaware; University of Santa Clara <>

Commentator, Lisa Shapiro, Conrell University, Simon Fraser University

The Passion of Love: Why Do Hutcheson and Hume Differ Over Its Influence?

Hutcheson and Hume regard moral love as an affection spectators have toward agents they find morally admirable. In this paper, I argue that love is a motive for Hutcheson, while it is not for Hume, and I ask why they differ over its influence. Despite Hutcheson's voluntaristic views, which say that connections between our passions are subject to divine election, I argue that love and benevolence are necessarily connected in his theory. I show that the identity of a passion cannot be contingent for the voluntarist in the way connections between passions can be, and that Hutcheson's treatment of love implies that love is partly constituted by a motive to pursue the happiness of the agent esteemed. Hume, on the contrary, identifies love by its characteristic sensation and its causal genesis. He does not consider it a passion that motivates on its own, but one that is contingently connected to benevolence, which does motivate. Accordingly, he writes, "I see no contradiction in supposing a desire of misery annex'd to love, and of happiness to hatred." In this paper I suggest that the discrepancy between Hutcheson and Hume over the characterization of love is founded on some interesting divergent concerns in their respective theories of passion and motivation. I conclude that Hutcheson captures a common intuition about moral love that Hume does not -- that we cannot be thought both to admire someone in this way and to desire that person's demise.


Geoff Sayre-McCord, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill <>

A Humean Account of Rational Agency

Hume is standardly seen as either being a thorough going sceptic about rational agency or as holding a simple, and simple-minded, theory according to which being a rational agent is merely a matter of being an efficient satisfying of one's strongest desires. Neither view, I argue, does justice to the resources Hume has to account for rational agency.


Jessica Spector, Trinity College <>

Commentator, Jane McIntyre, Cleveland State University

Pride & Proper Functioning: What Hume Can Say about What is Wrong with Taking Pride in Cruelty

Is there something wrong with a person who takes pleasure in cruelty? Hume thinks so, and he has a naturalistic account of just what that is. This is important because it shows that Hume can provide the sort of normative assessments of character and action that are supposed to be beyond the reach of empirical accounts of human nature. In order to show how Hume provides a normative account of personhood adequate for the work of ethics, I focus on his account of the passion of pride and the way it involves self-conception and inter-personal evaluation. Hume's description of the mechanism of the passion of pride, though couched in descriptive language, opens the door to the moral realm by giving us a way to criticize certain defects in character, such as cruelty. In order to show this, I use Hume's treatment of the character of John Knox from his History of England as a case study for revealing the sort of picture of proper functioning that emerges out of the mechanical detail of the description of the indirect passions. What gets Hume from the mechanical detail to an account of proper functioning of a kind is his anatomical approach. Anatomy is more than just an examination of the individual parts of a mind; it is the examination of the parts in terms of the larger whole that they are parts of and function in, that is, in terms of a particular form of life.


Corliss Swain, St. Olaf College <>

Commentator, Mikael Karlsson, University of Iceland

Between Plato and Euthyphro: Hume's Theory of Moral Value

Hume's moral theory is explained and evaluated in terms of how well it can accommodate and resolve the tensions between three seemingly incontrovertible facts about value: 1) that values depend for their existence on the passions and preferences of actual beings, 2) that passions and preferences are generally motivated, and 3) that there is a difference between being valued and being valuable. An examination of Hume's account of the indirect passions suggests a way of incorporating the causes of these passions into the very passions themselves, while a similar relation between the causes of the moral sentiments and the sentiments themselves provides a way of explaining how values can depend on the moral sentiments, even though these sentiments must themselves be explained in terms of features valuable things have independently of those sentiments. Hume's theory of moral value is distinguished from and shown to be independent of those sentiments. Hume's theory of moral value is distinguished from and shown to be superior to other emotivist theories.


Frits Von Holthoon, University of Groningen <>

Commentator, Roger Emerson, University of Western Ontario

The Structure of Hume's History of England

The structure of Hume's History is determined by three concerns: 1. Hume wrote, as we know, an anti-Whig history. Starting with the Stuarts he went back into English history in order to prove that there were no ancient rights that Charles I did violate, or rather that it is meaningless to make this argument. 2. While writing, Hume became preoccupied with the problem of executive authority as personified by the king. He wanted to make it clear that the position of the English kings has always been inherently insecure. 3. Hume took a genuine interest in social and economic history. Yet his narrative is strictly political. He did not write a history of civilization in which the economic and political facts are made part of one story. My explanation for Hume's behaviour is that he did not think that economic facts determine the political structure of an emerging regimen mixtum. His opinion is in line with his view that the state and civil society have separate spheres of action.


Bill Wringe, Bilkent University, Ankara <>

Commentator, Saul Traiger, Occidental College

Sympathy and Simulation: A Humean Contribution to the Theory of Mind Debate

In this paper I discuss the relationship between Hume's conception of sympathy and contemporary simulationist accounts of mental state ascription, particularly as they relate to the emotions. I argue that Humean sympathy cannot be used to explain our capacity to attribute emotions to other people along simulationist lines since it presupposes a capacity for emotion attribution, but that Hume's views about the scope of sympathy can be used to help the simulationist solve a problem about how we manage to attribute mental states which are arrived at on the basis of emotionally charged deliberation.