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Epistemology Moralized: David Hume's Practical Epistemology

Epistemology Moralized: David Hume's Practical Epistemology Hume Studies Volume 29, Number 2, November 2003, pp. 165-204 Epistemology Moralized: David Hume's Practical Epistemology MICHAEL RIDGE Among contemporary philosophers, even those who have not found skepticism about empirical science at all compelling have tended to find skepticism about morality irresistible. Â--Peter Railton1 Railton's remark is accurate; contemporary philosophers almost invariably suppose that morality is more vulnerable than empirical science to skepticism. Yet David Hume apparently embraces an inversion of this twentieth century orthodoxy.2 In Book 1 of the Treatise, he claims that the understanding, when it reflects upon itself, "entirely subverts itself" (T 1. 4.7.7; SBN 267) while, in contrast, in Book 3 he claims that our moral faculty, when reflecting upon itself, acquires "new force" (T 3.3.6.3; SBN 619). Such passages suggest Hume's view is that morality's claims on us are justified, whereas the understanding's claims are notÂ--that skepticism about empirical science, but not morality, is irresistible. However, this interpretation does not accurately reflect Hume's position. Indeed, any interpretation which has Hume concluding that the understanding's claims on us are not justified faces an obvious worryÂ--it makes nonsense of the rest of his naturalistic project, including, but not limited to, his description and justification of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Epistemology Moralized: David Hume's Practical Epistemology

Hume Studies , Volume 29 (2) – Jan 26, 2003

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Hume Society
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Copyright © Hume Society
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1947-9921
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Abstract

Hume Studies Volume 29, Number 2, November 2003, pp. 165-204 Epistemology Moralized: David Hume's Practical Epistemology MICHAEL RIDGE Among contemporary philosophers, even those who have not found skepticism about empirical science at all compelling have tended to find skepticism about morality irresistible. Â--Peter Railton1 Railton's remark is accurate; contemporary philosophers almost invariably suppose that morality is more vulnerable than empirical science to skepticism. Yet David Hume apparently embraces an inversion of this twentieth century orthodoxy.2 In Book 1 of the Treatise, he claims that the understanding, when it reflects upon itself, "entirely subverts itself" (T 1. 4.7.7; SBN 267) while, in contrast, in Book 3 he claims that our moral faculty, when reflecting upon itself, acquires "new force" (T 3.3.6.3; SBN 619). Such passages suggest Hume's view is that morality's claims on us are justified, whereas the understanding's claims are notÂ--that skepticism about empirical science, but not morality, is irresistible. However, this interpretation does not accurately reflect Hume's position. Indeed, any interpretation which has Hume concluding that the understanding's claims on us are not justified faces an obvious worryÂ--it makes nonsense of the rest of his naturalistic project, including, but not limited to, his description and justification of

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Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 2003

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