David Hume

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David Hume
Painting of David Hume.jpg
Born (1711-04-26)26 April 1711
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 25 August 1776(1776-08-25) (aged 65)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Era 18th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Scottish Enlightenment, Naturalism, Skepticism, Empiricism, Utilitarianism, Liberalism
Main interests Epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, classical economics
Notable ideas Problem of causation, bundle theory, induction, association of ideas, is–ought problem, utility, science of man

David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May [O.S. 26 April] 1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.[1] Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.[2]

Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In stark opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behaviour, saying: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions."[3] A prominent figure in the sceptical philosophical tradition and a strong empiricist, he argued against the existence of innate ideas. He concluded instead that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. Thus he divides perceptions between strong and lively "impressions" or direct sensations and fainter "ideas", which are copied from impressions.

He developed the position that mental behaviour is governed by "custom", that is acquired ability; our use of induction, for example, is justified only by our idea of the "constant conjunction" of causes and effects. Without direct impressions of a metaphysical "self", he concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self.

Hume advocated a compatibilist theory of free will that proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles. Hume also examined the normative is–ought problem. He held notoriously ambiguous views of Christianity,[4] but famously challenged the argument from design in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1777).

Immanuel Kant credited Hume with waking him up from his "dogmatic slumbers" and Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, and other movements and thinkers. The philosopher Jerry Fodor proclaimed Hume's Treatise "the founding document of cognitive science".[5] Also famous as a prose stylist,[6] Hume pioneered the essay as a literary genre and engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume's influence on his economics and political philosophy), James Boswell, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid.


David Home, anglicised to David Hume, son of Joseph Home of Chirnside, advocate, and Katherine Falconer, was born on 26 April 1711 (Old Style) in a tenement on the north side of the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh. He changed the spelling of his name in 1734, because the fact that his surname 'Home' was pronounced 'Hume' in Scotland was not known in England. Throughout his life Hume, who never married, spent time occasionally at his family home at Ninewells by Chirnside, Berwickshire, which had belonged to his family since the sixteenth century.


Hume attended the University of Edinburgh at the unusually early age of twelve (possibly as young as ten) at a time when fourteen was normal. At first he considered a career in law, but came to have, in his words, "an insurmountable aversion to everything but the pursuits of Philosophy and general Learning; and while [my family] fanceyed I was poring over Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the Authors which I was secretly devouring."[7] He had little respect for the professors of his time, telling a friend in 1735, "there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor, which is not to be met with in Books."[8]

Hume made a philosophical discovery that opened up to him "...a new Scene of Thought," which inspired him "...to throw up every other Pleasure or Business to apply entirely to it."[9] He did not recount what this "Scene" was, and commentators have offered a variety of speculations.[10] Due to this inspiration, Hume set out to spend a minimum of ten years reading and writing. He came to the verge of nervous breakdown, after which he decided to have a more active life to better continue his learning.[11]


As Hume's options lay between a travelling tutorship and a stool in a merchant's office, he chose the latter. In 1734, after a few months occupied with commerce in Bristol, he went to La Flèche in Anjou, France. There he had frequent discourse with the Jesuits of the College of La Flèche. As he had spent most of his savings during his four years there while writing A Treatise of Human Nature,[11] he resolved "to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible except the improvements of my talents in literature".[12] He completed the Treatise at the age of 26.

Although many scholars today consider the Treatise to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in Western philosophy, the critics in Great Britain at the time did not agree, describing it as "abstract and unintelligible".[13] Despite the disappointment, Hume later wrote, "Being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I soon recovered from the blow and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country."[12] There, he wrote the Abstract.[14] Without revealing his authorship, he aimed to make his larger work more intelligible.

After the publication of Essays Moral and Political in 1744, Hume applied for the Chair of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. However, the position was given to William Cleghorn, after Edinburgh ministers petitioned the town council not to appoint Hume because he was seen as an atheist.[15]

An engraving of Hume from the first volume of his The History of England, 1754

During the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, Hume tutored the Marquis of Annandale (1720–92), who was officially described as a "lunatic".[16] This engagement ended in disarray after about a year. However, it was then that Hume started his great historical work The History of England. This took him fifteen years and ran to over a million words. It was published in six volumes in the period between 1754 and 1762, while he was also involved with the Canongate Theatre through his friend John Home.[17]

In this context, he associated with Lord Monboddo and other Scottish Enlightenment luminaries in Edinburgh. From 1746, Hume served for three years as secretary to Lieutenant-General St Clair, and wrote Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding, later published as An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The Enquiry proved little more successful than the Treatise, perhaps because of the publishing of his short autobiography, My Own Life, which "made friends difficult for the first Enquiry".[18]

Hume's friends averted a trial against him on the charge of heresy. However, he "would not have come and could not be forced to attend if he said he was not a member of the Established Church."[19] Hume failed to gain the chair of philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

It was after returning to Edinburgh in 1752, as he wrote in My Own Life, that "the Faculty of Advocates chose me their Librarian, an office from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library."[20] This resource enabled him to continue historical research for The History of England.

Hume achieved great literary fame as a historian. His enormous The History of England, tracing events from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, was a best-seller in its day.

Hume's volume of Political Discourses (published by Kincaid & Donaldson, 1752)[21] was the only work he considered successful on first publication.[22]


Tomb of David Hume in Edinburgh

There has been much discussion concerning Hume's personal position on religion. Although he wrote a great deal about religion, the question of what were Hume's personal views is a difficult one.[23] Contemporaries seemed to consider him to be an atheist, or at least un-Christian, and the Church of Scotland seriously considered bringing charges of infidelity against him.[24]

The best theologian he ever met, he used to say, was the old Edinburgh fishwife who, having recognized him as Hume the atheist, refused to pull him out of the bog into which he had fallen until he declared he was a Christian and repeated the Lord's prayer.[25]

However, in works such as On Superstition and Enthusiasm, Hume specifically seems to support the standard religious views of his time and place. This still meant that he could be very critical of the Catholic Church, dismissing it with the standard Protestant accusations of superstition and idolatry[26] as well as dismissing what his compatriots saw as uncivilised beliefs.[27] He also considered extreme Protestant sects, the members of which he called enthusiasts, to be corrupters of religion.[28] Yet he also put forward arguments that suggested that polytheism had much to commend it in preference to monotheism.[29]

It is likely that Hume was sceptical both about religious belief (at least as demanded by the religious organisations of his time) and of the complete atheism promoted by such contemporaries as Baron d'Holbach. Paul Russell suggests that perhaps Hume's position is best characterised by the term "irreligion".[30] David O'Connor writes that Hume’s final position was "weakly deistic", but that this "position is deeply ironic. This is because, while inclining towards a weak form of deism, he seriously doubts that we can ever find a sufficiently favourable balance of evidence to justify accepting any religious position." He adds that Hume "did not believe in the God of standard theism. ... but he did not rule out all concepts of deity". Also, "ambiguity suited his purposes, and this creates difficulty in definitively pinning down his final position on religion".[31]

Marc Hanvelt identifies Hume as an Aristotelian in his view that rhetoric is a form of ethical studies, which ultimately makes it political.[32]

Later years[edit]

David Hume by Allan Ramsay, 1766

From 1763 to 1765, Hume was secretary to Lord Hertford in Paris, where he met and later fell out with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He wrote of his Paris life, "I really wish often for the plain roughness of The Poker Club of Edinburgh ... to correct and qualify so much lusciousness."[33] For a year from 1767, Hume held the appointment of Under Secretary of State for the Northern Department. In 1768 he settled in Edinburgh where he lived from 1771 until his death in 1776 at the south-west corner of St. Andrew's Square in Edinburgh's New Town, at what is now 21 Saint David Street. (A popular story, consistent with some historical evidence,[34] suggests the street was named after Hume.)

James Boswell saw Hume a few weeks before his death, which was from some form of abdominal cancer. Hume told him he sincerely believed it a "most unreasonable fancy" that there might be life after death.[35] This meeting was dramatized in semi-fictional form for the BBC by Michael Ignatieff as Dialogue in the Dark. Hume asked that his body be interred in a "simple roman tomb." In his will he requests that it be inscribed only with his name and the year of his birth and death, "leaving it to Posterity to add the Rest."[36] It stands, as he wished it, on the south-western slope of Calton Hill, in the Old Calton Cemetery. Adam Smith later recounted Hume's amusing speculation that he might ask Charon to allow him a few more years of life in order to see "the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of superstition". The ferryman replied, "You loitering rogue, that will not happen these many hundred years... Get into the boat this instant..."[37]

As historian of England[edit]

In 1754 to 1762 Hume published the History of England, a 6-volume work of immense sweep, which extends, says its subtitle, "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688." Inspired by Voltaire's sense of the breadth of history, Hume widened the focus of the field, away from merely kings, parliaments, and armies, to literature and science as well. He argued that the quest for liberty was the highest standard for judging the past, and concluded that after considerable fluctuation, England at the time of his writing had achieved "the most entire system of liberty, that was ever known amongst mankind."[38]

Hume's coverage of the political upheavals of the 17th century relied in large part on the Earl of Clarendon's History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1646–69). Generally Hume took a moderate Royalist position and considered revolution was unnecessary to achieve necessary reform. Hume's was considered a Tory history, and emphasized religious differences more than constitutional issues. Laird Okie writes: "Hume preached the virtues of political moderation, but ... it was moderation with an anti-Whig, pro-Royalist coloring." For "Hume shared the ... Tory belief that the Stuarts were no more high-handed than their Tudor predecessors." Also, "Even though Hume wrote with an anti-Whig animus, it is, paradoxically, correct to regard the History as an establishment work, one which implicitly endorsed the ruling oligarchy" .[39] Historians have debated whether Hume posited a universal unchanging human nature, or allowed for evolution and development.[40]

Roth argues that Hume's histories display his biases against Presbyterians and Puritans. Roth says his anti-Whig pro-monarchy position diminished the influence of his work, and that his emphasis on politics and religion led to a neglect of social and economic history.[41]

However Hume was an early cultural historian of science. His short biographies of leading scientists explored the process of scientific change. He developed new ways of seeing scientists in the context of their times by looking at how they interacted with society and each other. He covers over forty scientists, with special attention paid to Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. Hume awarded the palm of greatness to William Harvey.[42]

The History sold well and was influential for nearly a century, despite competition from imitations by Smollett (1757), Goldsmith (1771) and others. By 1894, there were at least 50 editions.[43] There was also an often-reprinted abridgement, The Student's Hume (1859).


Statue of Hume by Alexander Stoddart on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

In the introduction to A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume writes "'Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, more or less, to human nature ... Even Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Natural Religion, are in some measure dependent on the science of Man." Also, "the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences", and the method for this science assumes "experience and observation" as the foundations of a logical argument.[44] Because "Hume's plan is to extend to philosophy in general the methodological limitations of Newtonian physics,"[45] Hume is characterised as an empiricist.

Until recently, Hume was seen as a forerunner of the logical positivist movement; a form of anti-metaphysical empiricism. According to the logical positivists, unless a statement could be verified by experience, or else was true or false by definition (i.e. either tautological or contradictory), then it was meaningless (this is a summary statement of their verification principle). Hume, on this view, was a proto-positivist, who, in his philosophical writings, attempted to demonstrate how ordinary propositions about objects, causal relations, the self, and so on, are semantically equivalent to propositions about one's experiences.[46]

Many commentators have since rejected this understanding of Humean empiricism, stressing an epistemological, rather than a semantic reading of his project.[47] According to this opposing view, Hume's empiricism consisted in the idea that it is our knowledge, and not our ability to conceive, that is restricted to what can be experienced. To be sure, Hume thought that we can form beliefs about that which extends beyond any possible experience, through the operation of faculties such as custom and the imagination, but he was sceptical about claims to knowledge on this basis.


The cornerstone of Hume's epistemology is the problem of induction. This may be the area of Hume's thought where his scepticism about human powers of reason is most pronounced.[48] Understanding the problem of induction is central to grasping Hume's philosophical system.

The problem concerns the explanation of how we are able to make inductive inferences. Inductive inference is reasoning from the observed behaviour of objects to their behaviour when unobserved. As Hume says, it is a question of how things behave when they go "beyond the present testimony of the senses, and the records of our memory".[49] Hume notices that we tend to believe that things behave in a regular manner; so that patterns in the behaviour of objects seem to persist into the future, and throughout the unobserved present. This persistence of regularities is sometimes called Uniformitarianism or the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature.

Hume's argument is that we cannot rationally justify the claim that nature will continue to be uniform, as justification comes in only two varieties, and both of these are inadequate. The two sorts are: demonstrative reasoning, and probable reasoning.[50] With regard to demonstrative reasoning, Hume argues that the uniformity principle cannot be demonstrated, as it is "consistent and conceivable" that nature might stop being regular.[51] Turning to probable reasoning, Hume argues that we cannot hold that nature will continue to be uniform because it has been in the past. As this is using the very sort of reasoning (induction) that is under question, it would be circular reasoning.[52] Thus no form of justification will rationally warrant our inductive inferences.

Hume's solution to this problem is to argue that, rather than reason, natural instinct explains the human practice of making inductive inferences. He asserts that "Nature, by an absolute and uncontroulable [sic] necessity has determin'd us to judge as well as to breathe and feel." Although many modern commentators have demurred from Hume's solution,[53] some have notably concurred with it, seeing his analysis of our epistemic predicament as a major contribution to the theory of knowledge. For example, philosopher John D. Kenyon writes:

Reason might manage to raise a doubt about the truth of a conclusion of natural inductive inference just for a moment in the study, but the forces of nature will soon overcome that artificial scepticism, and the sheer agreeableness of animal faith will protect us from excessive caution and sterile suspension of belief.[54]


The notion of causation is closely linked to the problem of induction. According to Hume, we reason inductively by associating constantly conjoined events. It is the mental act of association that is the basis of our concept of causation. There are three main interpretations of Hume's theory of causation represented in the literature: (1) the logical positivist; (2) the sceptical realist; and (3) the quasi-realist.

The logical positivist interpretation is that Hume analyses causal propositions, such as "A caused B", in terms of regularities in perception: "A causes B" is equivalent to "Whenever A-type events happen, B-type ones follow", where "whenever" refers to all possible perceptions.[55]

power and necessity... are... qualities of perceptions, not of objects... felt by the soul and not perceived externally in bodies.[56]

This view is rejected by sceptical realists, who argue that Hume thought that causation amounts to more than just the regular succession of events.[47] When two events are causally conjoined, a necessary connection underpins the conjunction:

Shall we rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By no means ... there is a necessary connexion to be taken into consideration.[57]

Angela Coventry writes that, for Hume, "there is nothing in any particular instance of cause and effect involving external objects which suggests the idea of power or necessary connection." Also, "we are ignorant of the powers that operate between objects"[58]

However, referring to the Law of Causality, Hume wrote, "I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause."[59]

It has been argued that, while Hume did not think causation is reducible to pure regularity, he was not a fully fledged realist either. Simon Blackburn calls this a quasi-realist reading.[60] On this view, talk about causal necessity is an expression of a functional change in the human mind, whereby certain events are predicted or anticipated on the basis of prior experience. The expression of causal necessity is a "projection" of the functional change onto the objects involved in the causal connection. In Hume's words, "nothing is more usual than to apply to external bodies every internal sensation which they occasion."[61]

The self[edit]

According to the standard interpretation of Hume on personal identity, he was a bundle theorist, who held that the self is nothing but a bundle of experiences ("perceptions") linked by the relations of causation and resemblance; or, more accurately, that the empirically warranted idea of the self is just the idea of such a bundle. This view is forwarded by, for example, positivist interpreters, who saw Hume as suggesting that terms such as "self", "person", or "mind" referred to collections of "sense-contents".[62] A modern-day version of the bundle theory of the mind has been advanced by Derek Parfit in his Reasons and Persons[63]

However, some philosophers have criticised Hume's bundle-theory interpretation of personal identity. They argue that distinct selves can have perceptions that stand in relations of similarity and causality with one another. Thus perceptions must already come parcelled into distinct "bundles" before they can be associated according to the relations of similarity and causality. In other words, the mind must already possess a unity that cannot be generated, or constituted, by these relations alone. Since the bundle-theory interpretation portrays Hume as answering an ontological question, philosophers who see Hume as not very concerned with such questions have queried whether the view is really Hume's,[64] or "only a decoy".[65] Instead, it is suggested that Hume might have been answering an epistemological question about the causal origin of our concept of the self. In the Appendix to the Treatise, Hume declares himself dissatisfied with his account of the self in Book 1 of the Treatise, and the question of why he is dissatisfied has received a number of different answers.

Another interpretation of Hume's view of the self has been argued for by James Giles.[66] According to his view, Hume is not arguing for a bundle theory, which is a form of reductionism, but rather for an eliminative view of the self. That is, rather than reducing the self to a bundle of perceptions, Hume is rejecting the idea of the self altogether. On this interpretation, Hume is proposing a 'No-Self Theory' and thus has much in common with Buddhist thought.[67] On this point, Alison Gopnik has argued that Hume was in a position to learn about Buddhist thought during his time in France in the 1730s.[68]

Practical reason[edit]

Hume's anti-rationalism informed much of his theory of belief and knowledge, in his treatment of the notions of induction, causation, and the external world. But it was not confined to this sphere, and also permeated his theories of motivation, action, and morality. In a famous sentence in the Treatise, Hume circumscribes reason's role in the production of action:

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.[69]

It has been suggested that this position can be clarified through the metaphor of "direction of fit". In this, beliefs, which are the paradigmatic products of reason, are propositional attitudes that aim to have their content fit the world. Conversely, desires, which Hume calls passions, or sentiments, are states that aim to fit the world to their contents.[70] Though a metaphor, it has been argued that this intuitive way of understanding Hume's theory, that desires are necessary for motivation, "captures something quite deep in our thought about their nature".[71]

Hume's anti-rationalism has been very influential, and defended in contemporary philosophy of action by neo-Humeans such as Michael Smith[71] and Simon Blackburn.[72] The major opponents of the Humean view are cognitivists such as John McDowell, concerned with what it is to act for a reason,[73] and Kantians, such as Christine Korsgaard.[74]


Hume's views on human motivation and action formed the cornerstone of his ethical theory: he conceived moral or ethical sentiments to be intrinsically motivating, or the providers of reasons for action. Given that one cannot be motivated by reason alone, requiring the input of the passions, Hume argued that reason cannot be behind morality.

Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.[75]

Hume's sentimentalism about morality was shared by his close friend Adam Smith,[76] and Hume and Smith were mutually influenced by the moral reflections of Francis Hutcheson.[77]

Hume's theory of ethics has been influential in modern day meta-ethical theory, helping to inspire various forms of emotivism,[78][79] error theory[80] and ethical expressivism and non-cognitivism,[81] as well as Allan Gibbard's general theory of moral judgment and judgments of rationality.[82]

Free will, determinism, and responsibility[edit]

Hume, along with Thomas Hobbes, is cited as a classical compatibilist about the notions of freedom and determinism.[83] The thesis of compatibilism seeks to reconcile human freedom with the mechanist belief that human beings are part of a deterministic universe, whose happenings are governed by the laws of physics. Hume, to this end, was influenced greatly by the scientific revolution and by in particular Sir Isaac Newton.[84]

Hume argued that the dispute about the compatibility of freedom and determinism has been kept afloat by ambiguous terminology:

From this circumstance alone, that a controversy has been long kept on foot... we may presume, that there is some ambiguity in the expression.[85]

Hume defines the concepts of "necessity" and "liberty" as follows:

Necessity: "the uniformity, observable in the operations of nature; where similar objects are constantly conjoined together..."[86]

Liberty: "a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will..."[87]

Hume then argues that, according to these definitions, not only are the two compatible, but liberty requires necessity. For if our actions were not necessitated in the above sense, they would "...have so little in connexion with motives, inclinations and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other." But if our actions are not thus connected to the will, then our actions can never be free: they would be matters of "chance; which is universally allowed not to exist."[87]

Moreover, Hume goes on to argue that in order to be held morally responsible, it is required that our behaviour be caused, i.e. necessitated, for

Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and perishing; and where they proceed not from some cause in the character and disposition of the person who performed them, they can neither redound to his honour, if good; nor infamy, if evil.[88]

Hume describes the link between causality and our capacity to rationally make a decision from this an inference of the mind. Human beings assess a situation based upon certain predetermined events and from that form a choice. Hume believes that this choice is made spontaneously. Hume calls this form of decision making the liberty of spontaneity.

Hume further illustrates his position by rejecting a famous moral puzzle by french philosopher Jean Buridan. Buridan starts his puzzle by describing a donkey that is hungry. This donkey has on both sides of him separate bales of hay which are of equal distance away from him. Which bale does the donkey choose? Buridan believes that the donkey would die as he has no autonomy. The donkey is incapable of forming a rational decision as there is no motive to choose one bale of hay over the other. For Buridan, human beings are different, because a human who is placed in a position where he is forced to choose one loaf of bread over another will make a decision to take one in lieu of the other. For Buridan, humans have the capacity of autonomy. Buridan recognizes the choice that's ultimately made will be based on chance as both loaves of bread are indifferent from one another. However, Hume completely rejects this notion; he argues that a human will spontaneously act in such a situation as he's faced with impending death if he fails to. Such a decision is not done on the basis of chance, but rather on necessity and spontaneity given the prior predetermined events leading up to the predicament.[84]

This argument has inspired modern day commentators such as R. E. Hobart.[89] However, it has been argued that the issue of whether or not we hold one another morally responsible does not ultimately depend on the truth or falsity of a metaphysical thesis such as determinism. This is because our so holding one another is a non-rational human sentiment that is not predicated on such theses. For this influential argument, which is still made in a Humean vein, see P. F. Strawson's essay, Freedom and Resentment.[90]

Writings on Religion[edit]

"David Hume's various writings concerning problems of religion are among the most important and influential contributions on this topic."[91] His writings in this field cover the philosophy, psychology, history, and anthropology of religious thought. All of these aspects were discussed in Hume's 1757 dissertation, The Natural History of Religion. Here he argued that the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all derive from earlier polytheistic religions. He also suggests that all religious belief "traces, in the end, to dread of the unknown."[92] Hume had also written on religious subjects in his Enquiry, as well as later in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

Design argument[edit]

One of the traditional topics of Natural theology is that of the existence of God, and one of the a posteriori arguments for this is the argument from design or the Teleological argument. This is "the most popular, because the most accessible, of the theistic arguments ... which identifies evidences of design in nature, inferring from them a divine designer. ... The fact that the universe as a whole is a coherent and efficiently functioning system likewise, in this view, indicates a divine intelligence behind it."[93]

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all produced teleological arguments, and similar design arguments for the existence of God were expressed by St. Paul, with many others in the Greco-Roman world, who believed that the existence of God is evident from the appearances of nature. St Paul wrote: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made”[1:18-20]. The argument was also put forward by medieval Christian thinkers as well as by later writers such as Robert Boyle, John Ray, Samuel Clarke, and William Derham. William Paley, in the 19th century, produced a popular argument in his watchmaker analogy. Such writers asked questions like: Is not the eye as manifestly designed for seeing, and the ear for hearing, as a pen for writing or a clock for telling the time; and does not such design imply a designer?

In his Enquiry, Hume wrote that the design argument seems to depend upon our experience, and its proponents "always suppose the universe, an effect quite singular and unparalleled, to be the proof of a Deity, a cause no less singular and unparalleled." In this connection, L. E. Loeb notes that "we observe neither God nor other universes, and hence no conjunction involving them. There is no observed conjunction to ground an inference either to extended objects or to God, as unobserved causes."[94]

Hume also criticized the argument in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). He suggested that, even if the world is a more or less smoothly functioning system, this may only be a result of the "chance permutations of particles falling into a temporary or permanent self-sustaining order, which thus has the appearance of design".[93]

A century later the idea of order without design was rendered more plausible by Charles Darwin's discovery that the adaptations of the forms of life are a result of the natural selection of inherited characteristics.[93] J. F. Sennett and D. Groothuis write, "Suffice it to say that Hume, rivaled only by Darwin, has done the most to undermine in principle our confidence in arguments from design among all figures in the Western intellectual tradition."[95]

Finally, Hume discussed a version of the Anthropic Principle. "According to the anthropic principle, we are entitled to infer facts about the universe and its laws from the undisputed fact that we (we anthropoi, we human beings) are here to do the inferring and observing." Hume has his skeptical mouthpiece Philo suggest that there may have been multiple universes, produced by an incompetent designer that he called a "stupid mechanic".

Many worlds might have been botched and bungled, throughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out: Much labour lost: Many fruitless trials made: And a slow, but continued improvement carried on during infinite ages of world-making.

This mechanical explanation of teleology anticipated the notion of natural selection.[96]

Problem of miracles[edit]

See also: Miracle

In his discussion of miracles in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Section 10) Hume defines a miracle as "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent". Given that Hume argues that it is impossible to deduce the existence of a Deity from the existence of the world (for he says that causes cannot be determined from effects), miracles (including prophecy) are the only possible support he would conceivably allow for theistic religions.

Hume discusses everyday belief as often resulting from probability. We believe an event that has occurred often as being likely to occur again, but we also take into account those instances where the event did not occur.Hume writes:

In all cases where there are opposing experiments, we must balance them against one another and subtract the smaller number from the greater in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence.[97]

In the context of miracles, Hume discusses the testimony of those reporting them. He writes that testimony might be doubted even from some great authority: "The incredibility of a fact ... might invalidate even that great an authority." Also, "The value of this testimony as evidence will be greater or less in proportion as the fact that is attested to is less or more unusual."[97]

Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history:[98]

  • People often lie, and they have good reasons to lie about miracles occurring either because they believe they are doing so for the benefit of their religion or because of the fame that results.
  • People by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even where false.
  • Hume notes that miracles seem to occur mostly in "ignorant" and "barbarous" nations and times, and the reason they don't occur in the "civilized" societies is such societies aren't awed by what they know to be natural events.
  • The miracles of each religion argue against all other religions and their miracles, and so even if a proportion of all reported miracles across the world fit Hume's requirement for belief, the miracles of each religion make the other less likely.

Indeed, Hume was extremely pleased with his argument against miracles in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding he stated: “I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument of a like nature, which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endures.” Thus Hume's argument against miracles had a more abstract basis founded upon the scrutiny not just primarily of miracles but of all forms of belief systems. It is a common sense notion of veracity based upon epistemological evidence. Founded on a principle of rationality, proportionality and reasonability greatly analogous to the evidence used in a Civil Court.

The criteria for assessing a belief system for Hume is on the balance of probabilities whether something is more likely than not to have occurred. Since the weight of empirical experience contradicts the notion for the existence of miracles such accounts should be treated with scepticism. Further, the myriad of accounts of miracles contradict one another as some people who receive miracles will aim to prove the authority of Jesus whereas others will aim to prove the authority of Muhammad or some other religious prophet or deity. These various differing accounts weaken the overall evidential power of miracles.[99]

Despite all this, Hume observes that belief in miracles is popular, and that "The gazing populace receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition and promotes wonder."[100]

Critics have argued that Hume's position assumes the character of miracles and natural laws prior to any specific examination of miracle claims, and thus it amounts to a subtle form of begging the question. They have also noted that it requires an appeal to inductive inference, as none have observed every part of nature nor examined every possible miracle claim, for instance those in the future. This in Hume's philosophy was especially problematic.[101]

Hume's main argument concerning miracles is that miracles by definition are singular events that differ from the established Laws of Nature. The Laws of Nature are codified as a result of past experiences. Therefore a miracle is a violation of all prior experience and thus incapable on this basis of reasonable belief. However, the probability that something has occurred in contradiction of all past experience should always be judged to be less than the probability that either my senses have deceived me or the person recounting the miraculous occurrence is lying or mistaken, all of which I have past experience of. For Hume, this refusal to grant credence does not guarantee correctness – he offers the example of an Indian Prince, who having grown up in a hot country refuses to believe that water has frozen. By Hume's lights this refusal is not wrong and the Prince "reasoned soundly"; it is presumably only when he has had extensive experience of the freezing of water that he has warrant to believe that the event could occur.[102]

So for Hume, either the miraculous event will become a recurrent event or else it will never be rational to believe it occurred. The connection to religious belief is left explained throughout, except for the close of his discussion where Hume notes the reliance of Christianity upon testimony of miraculous occurrences. He makes an ironic remark that anyone who "is moved by faith to assent" to revealed testimony "is aware of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience."[103][104]

Political theory[edit]

It is difficult to categorize Hume's political affiliations. His thought contains elements that are, in modern terms, both conservative and liberal, as well as ones that are both contractarian and utilitarian, though these terms are all anachronistic. Thomas Jefferson banned Hume's History from the University of Virginia, fearing that it "has spread universal toryism over the land".[105] Yet, Samuel Johnson thought Hume "a Tory by chance... for he has no principle. If he is anything, he is a Hobbist."[106] His central concern is to show the importance of the rule of law, and stresses throughout his political Essays the importance of moderation in politics.

This outlook needs to be seen within the historical context of eighteenth century Scotland. Here the legacy of religious civil war, combined with the relatively recent memory of the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings, fostered in a historian such as Hume a distaste for enthusiasm and factionalism that appeared to threaten the fragile and nascent political and social stability of a country that was deeply politically and religiously divided.[107] He thinks that society is best governed by a general and impartial system of laws; he is less concerned about the form of government that administers these laws, so long as it does so fairly. However, he does write that republics must produce laws, while "Monarchy, when absolute, contains even something repugnant to law."[108]

Hume expressed suspicion of attempts to reform society in ways that departed from long-established custom, and he counselled peoples not to resist their governments except in cases of the most egregious tyranny.[109] However, he resisted aligning himself with either of Britain's two political parties, the Whigs and the Tories. Hume writes

My views of things are more conformable to Whig principles; my representations of persons to Tory prejudices.[110]

McArthur writes that Hume believed that we should try to balance our demands for liberty with the need for strong authority, without sacrificing either. McArthur characterizes Hume as a 'precautionary conservative', whose actions would have been "determined by prudential concerns about the consequences of change, which often demand we ignore our own principles about what is ideal or even legitimate".[111] He supported liberty of the press, and was sympathetic to democracy, when suitably constrained. Douglass Adair has argued that Hume was a major inspiration for James Madison's writings, and the Federalist No. 10 in particular.[112]

Hume was also, in general, an optimist about social progress, believing that, thanks to the economic development that comes with the expansion of trade, societies progress from a state of "barbarism" to one of "civilisation". Civilised societies are open, peaceful and sociable, and their citizens are as a result much happier. It is therefore not fair to characterise him, as Leslie Stephen did, as favouring "...that stagnation which is the natural ideal of a sceptic."[113]

Hume offered his view on the best type of society in an essay titled Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth, which lays out what he thought was the best form of government. He hoped that, "in some future age, an opportunity might be afforded of reducing the theory to practice, either by a dissolution of some old government, or by the combination of men to form a new one, in some distant part of the world". He defended a strict separation of powers, decentralisation, extending the franchise to anyone who held property of value and limiting the power of the clergy. The Swiss militia system was proposed as the best form of protection. Elections were to take place on an annual basis and representatives were to be unpaid.[114] Strauss and Cropsey write that Hume thought that "the wise statesman ... 'will bear a reverence to what carries the marks of age.' In attempting to improve a constitution he will adapt his innovations to the 'ancient fabric,' so as not to disturb society. His caution may be reinforced by reflection on the limits of human foresight."[115]

In the political analysis of George Sabine, the scepticism of Hume extended to the doctrine of government by consent. He notes that "...allegiance is a habit enforced by education and consequently as much a part of human nature as any other motive."[116]

Contributions to economic thought[edit]

Statues of David Hume and Adam Smith by David Watson Stevenson on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh

Through his discussions on politics, Hume developed many ideas that are prevalent in the field of economics. This includes ideas on private property, inflation, and foreign trade.[117] Referring to his essay "Of the Balance of Trade," Paul Krugman has remarked "... David Hume created what I consider the first true economic model." [118]

In contrast to Locke, Hume believes that private property isn't a natural right. Hume argues it is justified, because resources are limited. Private property would be an unjustified, "idle ceremonial", if all goods were unlimited and available freely. Hume also believed in an unequal distribution of property, because perfect equality would destroy the ideas of thrift and industry. Perfect equality would thus lead to impoverishment.[119]


Attention to Hume's philosophical works grew after the German philosopher Immanuel Kant credited Hume with awakening him from "dogmatic slumbers" (circa 1770).[120]

According to Schopenhauer, "there is more to be learned from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel, Herbart and Schleiermacher taken together".[121]

A. J. Ayer (1936), introducing his classic exposition of logical positivism, claimed: "The views which are put forward in this treatise derive from ... doctrines ..., which are themselves the logical outcome of the empiricism of Berkeley and David Hume."[122] Albert Einstein (1915) wrote that he was inspired by Hume's positivism when formulating his Special Theory of Relativity.[123] Hume was called "the prophet of the Wittgensteinian revolution" by N. Phillipson, referring to his view that mathematics and logic are closed systems, disguised tautologies, and have no relation to the world of experience.[124] David Fate Norton (1993) asserted that Hume was "the first post-sceptical philosopher of the early modern period".[125]

Hume's Problem of Induction was also of fundamental importance to the philosophy of Karl Popper. In his autobiography, Unended Quest,[126] he wrote: "'Knowledge' ... is objective; and it is hypothetical or conjectural. This way of looking at the problem made it possible for me to reformulate Hume's problem of induction". This insight resulted in Popper's major work The Logic of Scientific Discovery.[127] In his Conjectures and Refutations, p. 55, he writes:

I approached the problem of induction through Hume. Hume, I felt, was perfectly right in pointing out that induction cannot be logically justified.


  • A Kind of History of My Life (1734) Mss 23159 National Library of Scotland.[128] A letter to an unnamed physician, asking for advice about "the Disease of the Learned" that then afflicted him. Here he reports that at the age of eighteen "there seem'd to be open'd up to me a new Scene of Thought..." that made him "throw up every other Pleasure or Business" and turned him to scholarship.[129]
  • A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. (1739–40) Hume intended to see whether the Treatise of Human Nature met with success, and if so to complete it with books devoted to Politics and Criticism. However, it did not meet with success. As Hume himself said, "It fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the zealots"[12] and so was not completed.
  • An Abstract of a Book lately Published: Entitled A Treatise of Human Nature etc. (1740) Anonymously published, but almost certainly written by Hume[130] in an attempt to popularise his Treatise. Of considerable philosophical interest, because it spells out what he considered "The Chief Argument" of the Treatise, in a way that seems to anticipate the structure of the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.
  • Essays Moral and Political (first ed. 1741–2) A collection of pieces written and published over many years, though most were collected together in 1753–4. Many of the essays are focused on topics in politics and economics, though they also range over questions of aesthetic judgement, love, marriage and polygamy, and the demographics of ancient Greece and Rome, to name just a few of the topics considered. The Essays show some influence from Addison's Tatler and The Spectator, which Hume read avidly in his youth.
  • A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh: Containing Some Observations on a Specimen of the Principles concerning Religion and Morality, said to be maintain'd in a Book lately publish'd, intituled A Treatise of Human Nature etc. Edinburgh (1745). Contains a letter written by Hume to defend himself against charges of atheism and scepticism, while applying for a chair at Edinburgh University.
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Contains reworking of the main points of the Treatise, Book 1, with the addition of material on free will (adapted from Book 2), miracles, the Design Argument, and mitigated scepticism. Of Miracles, section X of the Enquiry, was often published separately.
  • An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751) A reworking of material from Book 3 of the Treatise, on morality, but with a significantly different emphasis. It "was thought by Hume to be the best of his writings".[131]
  • Political Discourses, (part II of Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary within vol. 1 of the larger Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects) Edinburgh (1752). Included in Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (1753–6) reprinted 1758–77.
  • Political Discourses/Discours politiques (1752–1758), My Own life (1776), Of Essay writing, 1742. Bilingual English-French (translated by Fabien Grandjean). Mauvezin, France: Trans-Europ-Repress, 1993, 22 cm, V-260 p. Bibliographic notes, index.
  • Four Dissertations London (1757). Included in reprints of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (above).
  • The History of England (Sometimes referred to as The History of Great Britain) (1754–62) More a category of books than a single work, Hume's history spanned "from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688" and went through over 100 editions. Many considered it the standard history of England in its day.
  • The Natural History of Religion (1757)
  • "My Own Life" (1776) Penned in April, shortly before his death, this autobiography was intended for inclusion in a new edition of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects. It was first published by Adam Smith who claimed that by doing so he had incurred "ten times more abuse than the very violent attack I had made upon the whole commercial system of Great Britain."[132]
  • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) Published posthumously by his nephew, David Hume the Younger. Being a discussion among three fictional characters concerning the nature of God, and is an important portrayal of the argument from design. Despite some controversy, most scholars agree that the view of Philo, the most sceptical of the three, comes closest to Hume's own.[133]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Great Thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment". 
  2. ^ Margaret Atherton, ed. The Empiricists: Critical Essays on Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.
  3. ^ "A Treatise of Human Nature, by David Hume (B2.3.3)". Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Paul Russel (17 May 2010). "Hume on Religion". First published October 4, 2005. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2008 Edition). Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Fodor, Jerry. Hume Variations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 134.
  6. ^ Saintsbury, George, ed. Specimens of English Prose Style: From Malory to Macaulay. London: Macmillan & Co., 1907, p. 196.
  7. ^ Hume, David (1993). "My Own Life". In Norton, DF. The Cambridge Companion to Hume. Cambridge University Press. p. 351. .
  8. ^ In a letter to 'Jemmy' Birch, quoted in Mossner, E. C. (2001). The life of David Hume. Oxford University Press. p. 626.
  9. ^ Hume, David (1993). "A Kind of History of My Life". In Norton, DF. The Cambridge Companion to Hume. Cambridge University Press. p. 346 .
  10. ^ See Johnson, Oliver A (1995). "The Mind of David Hume". University of Illinois Press. pp. 8–9 , for a useful presentation of varying interpretations of Hume's "scene of thought" remark
  11. ^ a b Mossner, 193.
  12. ^ a b c David Hume, A Kind of History of My Life. In Norton, D. F. (ed.) (1993). The Cambridge Companion to Hume, Cambridge University Press, p. 352
  13. ^ Mossner, 195
  14. ^ An Abstract of a Book lately Published; Entitled, A Treatise of Human Nature, &c. Wherein the Chief Argument of that Book is farther Illustrated and Explained, (London, 1740)
  15. ^ Nobbs, Douglas (1965). "The Political Ideas of William Cleghorn, Hume's Academic Rival". Journal of the History of Ideas 26 (4): 575–86. doi:10.2307/2708501 .
  16. ^ Grant, Old and New Edinburgh in the 18th Century (Glasgow, 1883), p. 7
  17. ^ Fieser, J., Early Responses to Hume's Life And Reputation: Volumes 9 and 10, A&C Black, 2005, p. xxii.
  18. ^ Buckle, S., Hume's biography and Hume's philosophy, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 77, No 1, pp. 1-25; March 1999.
  19. ^ Emerson, RL., Essays on David Hume Medical Men and the Scottish Enlightenment: Industry Knowledge and Humanity, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009, p.244.
  20. ^ Hume, David (1754–56). "The History of Great Britain". London. p. 353 .
  21. ^ Sher, Richard B. (2006). The Enlightenment & the book: Scottish authors & their publishers in eighteenth-century Britain, Ireland, & America. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology Series. University of Chicago Press. p. 313. ISBN 0-226-75252-6. 
  22. ^ Hume, David (1776). "My Own Life" .
  23. ^ Russell, 2008, O'Connor, 2001, and Norton, 1993
  24. ^ Mossner, E. C. (2001). The life of David Hume. Oxford University Press. p. 206
  25. ^ Scharfstein, B-A, A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads to Kant, SUNY Press, 1998 , p. 454n.
  26. ^ Hume, D. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding "... the gradual progress of the Catholic superstition ..."; and On Superstition and Enthusiasm: "Modern Judaism and popery especially the latter being the most unphilosophical and absurd superstitions which have yet been known in the world ..."
  27. ^ Hume, D. The Natural History of Religion "... our present experience concerning the principles and opinions of barbarous nations. The savage tribes of America, Africa and Asia are all idolaters."
  28. ^ Hume, D. Of Superstition and Enthusiasm: "That the corruption of the best of things produces the worst is grown into a maxim, and is commonly proved, among other instances, by the pernicious effects of superstition and enthusiasm, the corruptions of true religion." (p. 104) and "... all enthusiasts have been free from the yoke of ecclesiastics and have exprest great independence in their devotion with a contempt of forms ceremonies and traditions. The Quakers are the most egregious tho at the same time the most innocent enthusiasts ... The Independents of all the English sectaries approach nearest to the Quakers in fanaticism and in their freedom from priestly bondage. The Presbyterians follow after at an equal distance in both particulars. (p.107) in Essays by David Hume, John Long, London, 1923
  29. ^ Hume, D. The Natural History of Religion "... Where the deity is represented as infinitely superior to mankind this belief tho altogether just is apt ... to represent the monkish virtues of mortification, penance, humility and passive suffering as the only qualities which are acceptable to him. But where the gods are conceived to be only a little superior to mankind and to have been many of them advanced that inferior rank we are more at our ease in our addresses to them and may even without profaneness aspire sometimes to a rivalship and emulation of them."
  30. ^ Russell, Paul (2008). The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion, New York & Oxford, Oxford University Press
  31. ^ O'Connor (2009), pp. 11 & 19.
  32. ^ Hanvelt, Marc. "Polite Passionate Persuasion: Hume's Conception of Rhetoric." Canadian Journal of Political Science 43.3 (2010): 565–581.
  33. ^ Mossner, p. 265
  34. ^ Mossner, Appendix H
  35. ^ Boswell, J. Boswell in Extremes, 1776–1778
  36. ^ Mossner, p. 591
  37. ^ Smith, Adam Letter to William Strahan at p. xx of Hume's The History of England, New Edition, London, 1789.
  38. ^ Hume vol 6. p 531 cited in John Philipps Kenyon (1984). The history men: the historical profession in England since the Renaissance. U. of Pittsburgh Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780822959007. 
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  43. ^ Phillipson, Nicholas (2012). David Hume: The Philosopher As Historian. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-300-18166-1. 
  44. ^ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, (New York: Dover, 2003 edition), p. 7
  45. ^ Copplestone, F., A history of Philosophy, v. 6, 2003
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    • Edward Craig, The Mind of God and the Works of Man, Ch.2
    • Galen Strawson, The Secret Connexion, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989)
    • John Wright, The Sceptical Realism of David Hume, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983)
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  49. ^ Hume, D. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 108
  50. ^ These are Hume's terms. In modern parlance, demonstration may be termed deductive reasoning, while probability may be termed inductive reasoning: see Dr. Peter J. R. Millican's. "Hume, Induction and Probability". D.Phil thesis. 
  51. ^ Hume, D. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 111
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  53. ^ Harris, Errol E. (2004). Hypothesis and Perception: The Roots of Scientific Method. Muirhead Library of Philosophy 10. Psychology Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-415-29615-1. 
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  55. ^ For this account of Hume's views on causation,
    • A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic, (Penguin, 2001 edition), pp. 40–42
  56. ^ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, (New York: Dover, 2003 edition), p. 168
  57. ^ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, (New York: Dover, 2003 edition), p. 56
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  61. ^ Hume, D. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 147, fn.17
  62. ^ Ayer, AJ., Language, Truth and Logic, (Penguin, 2001 edition), pp. 135–6
  63. ^ Parfit, D., Reasons and Persons, Oxford University Press, 1984.
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  66. ^ Giles, J., No Self to be Found: the Search for Personal Identity, University Press of America, 1997.
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  68. ^ "Could David Hume Have Known about Buddhism? Charles Francois Dolu, the Royal College of La Flèche, and the Global Jesuit Intellectual Network", Hume Studies, Volume 35, Number 1&2, 2009, pp. 5–28. Cited in Ganeri, J., Identity as Reasoned Choice: A South Asian Perspective on The Reach and Resources of Public and Practical Reason in Shaping Individual Identities, A&C Black, 2012, p. 217.
  69. ^ Treatise, p. 295
  70. ^ The metaphor of direction of fit in this sense has been traced back to Elizabeth Anscombe's work on intention: Intention (2nd Edition), (1963, Oxford: Basil Blackwell)
  71. ^ a b M. Smith, 'The Humean Theory of Motivation', Mind, New Series, Vol. 96, No. 381 (Jan., 1987), pp. 36–61
  72. ^ S. Blackburn, 'Practical Tortoise Raising', Mind, New Series, Vol. 104, No. 416 (Oct., 1995), pp. 695–711
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  76. ^ Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), ed. K. Haakonssen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
  77. ^ For Hutcheson's influence on Hume, see footnote 7. For his influence on Smith, see William L. Taylor, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume as Predecessors of Adam Smith, (Durham: Duke University Press, 1965)
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  127. ^ Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1934 (as Logik der Forschung, English translation 1959), ISBN 0-415-27844-9
  128. ^ David Fate Norton (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hume, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 345-350.
  129. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Hume, cit. pp. 346.
  130. ^ For this see the introduction by J. M. Keynes and P. Sraffa in: Hume, David (1965). An abstract of A treatise of Human Nature 1740. Connecticut: Archon Books
  131. ^ Samson, G., The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature, CUP Archive, 1941, p. 548.
  132. ^ Berry, CJ., Paganelli, MP. and Smith, C., The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 466.
  133. ^ William Crouch. "Which character is Hume in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion?". 


  • Anderson, R. F. (1966). Hume's First Principles, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
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  • Graham, R. (2004). The Great Infidel — A Life of David Hume. John Donald, Edinburgh.
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Bilingual English-French (translated by Fabien Grandjean). Mauvezin, France, Trans-Europ-Repress, 1993, 22 cm, V-260 p. Bibliographic notes, index.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Ardal, Pall (1966). Passion and Value in Hume's Treatise, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.
  • Bailey, Alan & O'Brien, Dan (eds.) (2012). The Continuum Companion to Hume, New York: Continuum.
  • Beauchamp, Tom & Rosenberg, Alexander (1981). Hume and the Problem of Causation, New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Campbell Mossner, Ernest (1980). The Life of David Hume, Oxford University Press.
  • Gilles Deleuze (1953). Empirisme et subjectivité. Essai sur la Nature Humaine selon Hume, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, trans. Empiricism and Subjectivity, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991)
  • Garrett, Don (1996). Cognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gaskin, J.C.A. (1978). Hume's Philosophy of Religion. Humanities Press International.
  • Hesselberg, A. Kenneth (1961). Hume, Natural Law and Justice. Duquesne Review, Spring 1961, pp. 46–47.
  • Kail, P. J. E. (2007) Projection and Realism in Hume's Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Kemp Smith, Norman (1941). .The Philosophy of David Hume. Macmillan.
  • Norton, David Fate (1982). David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician. Princeton University Press, 1982.
  • Norton, David Fate & Taylor, Jacqueline (eds.) (2009). The Cambridge companion to Hume, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Radcliffe, Elizabeth S. (ed.) (2008). A Companion to Hume, Malden: Blackwell.
  • Rosen, Frederick (2003). Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill (Routledge Studies in Ethics & Moral Theory). ISBN 0-415-22094-7
  • Russell, Paul (1995). Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility. New York & Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Russell, Paul (2008). The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion, New York & Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Stroud, Barry (1977). Hume, Routledge, London & New York. (Complete study of Hume's work parting from the interpretation of Hume's naturalistic philosophical programme).
  • Wilson, Fred (2008). The external world and our knowledge of it : Hume's critical realism, an exposition and a defence, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

External links[edit]