Roger Williams Institute

David Hume

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Generally regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English,
David Hume (1711-1776) -- the last of the great triumvirate of "British
empiricists" -- was also noted as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in
any genre, Hume's major philosophical works -- A Treatise of Human Nature
(1739-1740), the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding (1748) and concerning
the Principles of Morals (1751), as well as the posthumously published Dialogues
concerning Natural Religion (1779) -- remain widely and deeply influential,
despite their being denounced by many of his contemporaries as works of
scepticism and atheism. While Hume's influence is evident in the moral
philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith, he also
awakened Immanuel Kant from his "dogmatic slumbers" and "caused the scales to
fall" from Jeremy Bentham's eyes. Charles Darwin counted Hume as a central
influence, as did "Darwin's bulldog," Thomas Henry Huxley. The diverse
directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading Hume
reflect not only the richness of their sources but also the wide range of Hume's
empiricism. Comtemporary philosophers recognize Hume as one of the most
thoroughgoing exponents of philosophical naturalism.

1. Life and Works
2. The Treatise and the Enquiries
3. Method
4. Empiricism
5. Association
6. Causation: The Negative Phase
7. Causation: The Positive Phase
8. Necessary Connection and the Definition of Cause
9. Moral Philosophy
10. Politics, Criticism, History, and Religion
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1. Life and Works

Born in Edinburgh, Hume spent his childhood at Ninewells, the family's modest
estate on the Whitadder River in the border lowlands near Berwick. His father
died just after David's second birthday, "leaving me, with an elder brother and
a sister under the care of our Mother, a woman of singular Merit, who, though
young and handsome, devoted herself to the rearing and educating of her
Children." (All quotations in this section from Hume's autobiographical essay,
"My Own life", reprinted in HL.)

Katherine Falconer Home realized that young David was "uncommonly wake-minded"
-- precocious, in her lowland dialect -- so when his brother went up to
Edinburgh University, David, not yet twelve, joined him. He studied mathematics
and contemporary science, and read widely in history, literature, and ancient
and modern philosophy.

Hume's family thought him suited for a career in the law, but he preferred
reading classical authors, especially Cicero, whose Offices became his secular
substitute for The Whole Duty of Man and his family's strict Calvinism. Pursuing
the goal of becoming "a Scholar & Philosopher," he followed a rigorous program
of reading and reflection for three years until "there seem'd to be open'd up to
me a New Scene of Thought."

The intensity of developing this philosophical vision precipitated a
psychological crisis in the isolated scholar. Believing that "a more active
scene of life" might improve his condition, Hume made "a very feeble trial" in
the world of commerce, as a clerk for a Bristol sugar importer. The crisis
passed and he remained intent on articulating his "new scene of thought." He
moved to France, where he could live frugally, and settled in La Flche, a
sleepy village in Anjou best known for its Jesuit college. Here, where Descartes
and Mersenne studied a century before, Hume read French and other continental
authors, especially Malebranche, Dubos, and Bayle; he occasionally baited the
Jesuits with iconoclastic arguments; and, between 1734 and 1737, he drafted A
Treatise of Human Nature.

Hume returned to England in 1737 to ready his Treatise for the press. To curry
favor with Bishop Butler, he "castrated" his manuscript, deleting his
controversial discussion of miracles, along with other "nobler parts." Book I
(Of the Understanding) and Book II (Of the Passions) was published anonymously
in 1739. Book III (Of Morals) appeared in 1740, as well as an anonymous Abstract
of the first two books of the Treatise. Although other candidates, especially
Adam Smith, have occasionally been proposed as the Abstract's author, scholars
now agree that it is Hume's work. The Abstract features a clear, succinct
account of "one simple argument" concerning causation and the formation of
belief. Hume's elegant summary presages his "recasting" of that argument in the
first Enquiry.

The Treatise was no literary sensation but it didn't "fall dead-born from the
press," as Hume disappointedly described its reception. Despite his surgical
deletions, the Treatise attracted enough of a "murmour among the zealots" to
fuel his life-long reputation as an atheist and a sceptic.

Back at Ninewells, Hume published two modestly successful volumes of Essays,
Moral and Political in 1741 and 1742. When the Chair of Ethics and Pneumatical
("Mental") Philosophy at Edinburgh became vacant in 1745, Hume hoped to fill it,
but his reputation provoked vocal and ultimately successful opposition. Six
years later, he stood for the Chair of Logic at Glasgow, only to be turned down
again. Hume never held an academic post.

In the wake of the Edinburgh debacle, Hume made the unfortunate decision to
accept a position as tutor to the Marquess of Annandale, only to find that the
young Marquess was insane and his estate manager dishonest. Hume managed to
extricate himself from this situation, and accepted the invitation of his
cousin, Lieutenant-General James St. Clair, to be his Secretary ("I wore the
uniform of an officer.") on a military expedition against the French in Quebec.
Contrary winds delayed St. Clair's fleet until the Ministry canceled the plan,
only to spawn a new expedition that ended as an abortive raid on the coastal
town of L'Orient in Brittany.

Hume also accompanied St. Clair on an extended diplomatic mission to Vienna and
Turin in 1748. While he was in Italy, the Philosophical Essays concerning Human
Understanding appeared. A recasting of the central ideas of Book I of the
Treatise, the Philosophical Essays were read and reprinted, eventually becoming
part of Hume's Essays and Treatises under the title by which they are known
today, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. In 1751, this Enquiry was
joined by a second, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. Hume
described the second Enquiry, a substantially rewritten version of Book III of
the Treatise, as "incomparably the best" of all his works. More essays, the
Political Discourses, appeared in 1752, and Hume's correspondence also reveals
that a draft of the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion was underway at this

An offer to serve as Librarian to the Edinburgh Faculty of Advocates gave Hume
the opportunity to work steadily on another project, a History of England, which
was published in six volumes in 1754, 1756, 1759, and 1762. His History became a
best-seller, finally giving him the financial independence he had long sought.
But even as a librarian, Hume managed to arouse the ire of the "zealots." In
1754, his order for several "indecent Books unworthy of a place in a learned
Library" prompted a move for his dismissal, and in 1756, an unsuccessful attempt
to excommunicate him. The Library's Trustees canceled his order for the
offending volumes, which Hume regarded as a personal insult. Since he needed the
Library's resources for his History, Hume did not resign his post; he did turn
over his salary to Thomas Blacklock, a blind poet he befriended and sponsored.
When research for the History was done in 1757, Hume quickly resigned to make
the position available for Adam Ferguson.

Hume's publication of Four Dissertations (1757) was also surrounded by
controversy. In 1755, he was ready to publish a volume that included "Of
Suicide" and "Of the Immortality of the Soul." He suppressed the controversial
essays when his publisher, Andrew Millar, was threatened with legal action, due
largely to the machinations of the minor theologian William Warburton. Hume
added "Of Tragedy" and "Of the Standard of Taste" to round out the volume, which
also included The Natural History of Religion and A Dissertation on the

In 1763, Hume accepted an invitation from Lord Hertford, the Ambassador to
France, to serve as his Private Secretary. During his three years in Paris, Hume
became Secretary to the Embassy and eventually its Charg d'Affaires. He also
become the rage of the Parisian salons, enjoying the conversation and company of
Diderot, D'Alembert, and d'Holbach, as well as the attentions and affections of
the salonnires, especially the Comtesse de Boufflers.

Hume returned to England in 1766, accompanied by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was
then fleeing persecution in Switzerland. Their friendship ended quickly and
miserably when the paranoid Rousseau became convinced that Hume was
masterminding an international conspiracy against him.

After a year (1767-68) as an Under-Secretary of State, Hume returned to
Edinburgh to stay. His autumnal years were spent quietly and comfortably, dining
and conversing with friends, and revising his works for new editions of his
Essays and Treatises, which contained his collected essays, the two Enquiries, A
Dissertation on the Passions, and The Natural History of Religion. In 1775, he
added an "Advertisement" to these volumes, in which he appeared to disavow the
Treatise. Though he regarded this note as "a compleat Answer" to his critics,
especially "Dr. Reid and that biggotted, silly fellow, Beattie," subsequent
readers have wisely chosen to ignore Hume's admonition to ignore his greatest
philosophical work.

Upon finding that he had intestinal cancer, Hume prepared for his death with the
same peaceful cheer that characterized his life. He arranged for the posthumous
publication of his most controversial work, the Dialogues concerning Natural
Religion; it was seen through the press by his nephew and namesake in 1779,
three years after his uncle's death.

2. The Treatise and the Enquiries

Hume's apparent disavowal of the Treatise raises a question as to how we should
read his works. Should we take his "Advertisement" literally and let the
Enquiries represent his considered view? Or should we take him seriously and
conclude -- whatever he may have said or thought -- that the Treatise is the
best statement of his position?

Both responses presuppose that there are substantial enough differences between
the works to warrant our reading them as disjoint. This is highly dubious. Even
in the "Advertisement," Hume says that "most of the principles, and reasonings,
contained in this volume, were published" in the Treatise, and that he has "cast
the whole anew in the following pieces, where some negligences in his former
reasoning and more in the expression, are...corrected" (EHU, "Advertisement").
Despite his protests, this hardly sounds like the claims of one who has
genuinely repudiated his earlier work.

Hume reinforced this perspective when he wrote Gilbert Elliot of Minto that "the
philosophical principles are the same in shortening and simplifying
the questions, I really render them much more complete" (HL, I:158). And in "My
Own Life," he opined that the Treatise's lack of success "proceeded more from
the manner than the matter." Hume's "recasting" of the Treatise was probably
designed primarily to address this point. This brief overview of Hume's central
views on method, epistemology, and ethics therefore follows the structure --
"the manner" -- of the Enquiries and emphasizes "the matter" they have in common
with the Treatise.

3. Method

In his Introduction to the Treatise, Hume bemoans the sorry state of philosophy,
evident even to "the rabble without doors," which has given rise to "that common
prejudice against metaphysical reasonings of all kinds" (T, xiv). He hopes to
correct this miserable situation by introducing "the experimental method of
reasoning into moral subjects," establishing "a science of human nature" that
will put philosophy on a "solid foundation" of "experience and observation" (T,

Hume's positive, naturalistic project has much in common with contemporary
cognitive science. Recent readers have paid more attention to these aspects of
his philosophy than his earlier critics apparently did. As a result, no
contemporary Hume scholar entirely accepts the traditional view that Hume was
solely a negative philosopher whose goal was to make manifest the sceptical
consequences of the views of his empiricist predecessors. But there remains
considerable disagreement about the role and extent of scepticism in his
philosophy, and disagreement about its relation to the naturalistic elements of
his system. What Hume says about his aims and method helps clarify these issues.
In An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, Hume says that he will
"follow a very simple method," which will nonetheless bring about "a reformation
in moral disquisitions" like that already accomplished in natural philosophy,
where we have been cured of "a common source of illusion and mistake" -- our
"passion for hypotheses and systems." To make parallel progress in the moral
sciences, we should "reject every system...however subtle or ingenious, which is
not founded on fact and observation," and "hearken to no arguments but those
which are derived from experience" (EPM, 173-175).

The "hypotheses and systems" Hume rejects cover a wide range of philosophical
and theological views. These theories were too entrenched, too influential, and
too different from his proposed science of human nature to permit him just to
present his "new scene of thought" as their replacement. He needed to show why
we should reject these theories, so that he might have space to develop his own.
Hume outlines this strategy in the first section of An Enquiry concerning Human
Understanding. He considers two prominent types of "false metaphysics" (EHU,
12). Though each type has as its basis an appealing human characteristic, both
views extend their accounts of these characteristics beyond their basis in
experience, and so beyond the bounds of cognitive content.

The first view looks at humans as active creatures, driven by desires and
feelings. It paints a flattering picture of human nature, easy to understand and
even easier to accept. These philosophers make us feel what they say about our
feelings, and what they say is so useful and agreeable that ordinary people who
encounter these views are readily inclined to accept them. This view might be
called sentimentalism. It is a generic characterization of the position defended
in Hume's time by Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson.

The other view downgrades sentiment to concentrate on rationality, which it
treats as the distinctive human characteristic. This view glorifies the
reasonable aspects of our natures and appeals to them in its emphasis on
rarefied speculation and abstract argument. The systems of Descartes and other
rationalist philosophers fit this general description. Given its emphasis on the
role of the intellect, this view might be called intellectualism.

Intellectualism and sentimentalism seem to be exhaustive alternatives, ways of
characterizing the ancient debate as to whether reason or passion is, or should
be, the dominant force in human life. Hume saw that both approaches capture
important aspects of human nature, but that neither tells the whole story. We
are active and reasonable creatures. A view that mixes both styles of philosophy
will be best, so long as it gets the mixture right.

But getting the mixture right, Hume realized, is no easy task. Intellectualism
is too abstract, too remote from ordinary life to have any practical
application. It can indulge the worst excesses of human vanity, especially when
it treats matters that are beyond the limits of human understanding. It can be
co-opted by popular superstitions, peddling religious fears and prejudices
cloaked in profound-sounding but meaningless metaphysical jargon.
It is tempting to react to these features of intellectualism by arguing that we
should abandon metaphysics altogether. But ordinary life doesn't equip us to do
good metaphysics, and without some measure of accurate metaphysical description,
sentimentalism can't be as precise as it should be. Delicate sentiment requires
just reasoning, and an adequate account of just reasoning requires an accurate
and precise metaphysics. The only way to correct sentiment and to avoid the
sources of error and uncertainty rooted in intellectualism, is to do more
metaphysics -- but of the right kind. We must pursue true metaphysics if we want
to jettison these false and deceptive views.

Hume's insight was to see that getting the correct mixture requires a two-fold
task, with negative and positive aspects. To develop a science of human nature,
it is first necessary to undermine the foundations of all forms of false and
misleading metaphysics. When we are rid of these sources of superstition,
prejudice, and error, the stage will be clear for the kind of mental geography
that constitutes true metaphysics. Accurate, just reasoning about human nature
-- the descriptive project of true metaphysics -- requires us to examine the
scope and limits of our cognitive capacities, so that we may at last obtain an
exact picture of the powers and limitations of human understanding.
The negative phase of Hume's project scrutinizes the central arguments of the
dominant philosophical and theological views of his day and exposes the lack of
cognitive content in their key notions. Hume's sceptical arguments are an
important part of this negative phase. Since these arguments are among the most
prominent and powerful Hume has to offer, it is not surprising that they are
often mistaken for his final view. But these arguments function as reductios of
theories he rejects, not as parts of the positive position he offers in their
place. They point up the poverty of false metaphysics to rid us of the
temptation of doing metaphysics this way. Only then will we be ready for the
positive phase -- true metaphysics, which will replace the old incoherent
metaphysics with the careful accurate description that is the proper goal of

4. Empiricism

This combination of negative and positive aims is a distinguishing feature of
Hume's particular brand of empiricism, and the strategy he devised to achieve
these aims is revelatory of his philosophical genius. For Hume, all the
materials of thinking -- perceptions -- are derived either from sensation
("outward sentiment") or from reflection ("inward sentiment") (EHU, 19). He
divides perceptions into two categories, distinguished by their different
degrees of force and vivacity. Our "more feeble" perceptions, ideas, are
ultimately derived from our livelier impressions(EHU, Section II).
Although we permute and combine ideas in imagination to form complex ideas of
things we haven't experienced, our creative powers extend no farther than "the
materials afforded us by the senses and experience." Complex ideas are composed
of simple ideas, which are fainter copies of the simple impressions from which
they are ultimately derived, to which they correspond and exactly resemble. Hume
offers this "general proposition" as his "first the science of
human nature" (T, 7). Usually called the "Copy Principle," Hume's distinctive
brand of empiricism is often identified with his commitment to it.

Hume presents the Copy Principle as an empirical thesis. He emphasizes this
point by offering, in both the Treatise and the first Enquiry, as an empirical
counterexample to the principle, "one contradictory phenomenon" (T, 5-6; EHU,
20-21) -- the infamous missing shade of blue. Hume asks us to consider "a person
to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly well
acquainted with colours of all kinds, excepting one particular shade of
blue..."(T, 6). Then

"Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be plac'd
before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; tis plain,
that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be
sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place betwixt the contiguous
colours, than in any other. Now I ask, whether tis possible for him, from his
own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of
that particular shade, tho it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I
believe there are few but will be of the opinion that he can; and this may serve
as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always derived from the correspondent
impressions; tho the instance is so particular and singular, that tis scarce
worth our observing, and does not merit that for it alone we should alter our
general maxim" (T 6). Hume's critics have objected that, in offering this
counterexample, he either unwittingly destroys the generality of the Copy
Principle, which he needs, given the uses to which he will put it, or else his
dismissive attitude toward the counterexample reflects his disingenuous
willingness to apply the Copy Principle arbitrarily, while pretending that it
really possesses the generality his uses of it require.

Hume's defenders, on the other hand, maintain either that he should have granted
that the imaginative construction of the missing shade really produces a complex
idea, or that he should have insisted that such counterexamples are exceedingly
rare, and that the contentious metaphysical ideas, the cognitive content of
which he uses the Copy Principle to critique, are not possibly ideas that could
be generated by the imagination in the way the missing shade is supposedly

These defenses have their attractive points, but there is a far more satisfying
resolution of the issue the missing shade raises available to Hume. In Book II
of the Treatise, he describes a similar remarkably similar phenomenon that
occurs with certain passions:

"Ideas may be compar'd to the extension and solidity of matter, and impressions,
especially reflective ones, to colours, tastes, smells and other sensible
qualities. Ideas never admit of a total union, but are endow'd with a kind of
impenetrability, by which they exclude each other, and are capable of forming a
compound by their conjunction, not by their mixture. On the other hand,
impressions and passions are susceptible of an entire union; and like colours,
may be blended so perfectly together, that each of them may lose itself, and
contribute only to vary that uniform impression, which arises from the whole.
Some of the most curious phaenomena of the human mind are deriv'd from this
property of the passions" (T 366).

In these cases of "impressions and passions," both of which are simples for
Hume, two impressions or two passions are blended to form a third, which is also
a simple impression or passion. It seems plausible to think, and Hume's language
in this passage certainly suggests as much, that one's ideas of two shades of
(say) blue could also be blended to produce a third simple idea -- an idea of
the missing shade.

While Hume's empiricism is usually identified with the Copy Principle, it is
actually his use of its reverse in his account of definition that is really the
most distinctive element of his empiricism.

Believing that "the chief our improvement in the moral or
metaphysical sciences is the obscurity of the ideas, and ambiguity of the terms"
(EHU, 61), Hume argued that conventional definitions -- defining terms in terms
of other terms -- replicate philosophical confusions by substituting synonyms
for the original and thus never break out of a narrow "definitional circle."
Determining the cognitive content of an idea or term requires something else.
Hume supplied what was required with his account of definition, which offers a
simple series of tests to determine cognitive content. First, find the idea to
which a term is annexed. If none can be found, then the term has no content,
however prominently it may figure in philosophy or theology. If the idea is
complex, break it up into the simple ideas of which it is composed. Then trace
the simple ideas back to their original impressions: "These impressions are all
strong and sensible. They admit not of ambiguity. They are not only placed in a
full light themselves, but may throw light on their correspondent ideas, which
lie in obscurity" (EHU, 62).

If the process fails at any point, the idea in question lacks cognitive content.
When carried out successfully, it yields a full account -- a "just definition"
-- of the troublesome idea or term; a Humean definition gives us its exact
cognitive content. So, whenever we are suspicious that a "philosophical term is
employed without any meaning or idea (as is too frequent), we need but enquire,
from what impression is that supposed idea derived? And if it be impossible to
assign any, this will serve to confirm our suspicion. By bringing ideas into so
clear a light we may reasonably hope to remove all dispute, which may arise,
concerning their nature and reality" (EHU, 22).

Hume's account of definition is not only the most distinctive feature of his
empiricism, it is also a brilliant strategic device. He regards it as "a new
microscope or species of optics, by which, in the moral sciences, the most
minute, and most simple ideas may be so enlarged as to fall readily under our
apprehension, and be equally known with the grossest and most sensible ideas,
that can be the object of our enquiry" (EHU, 62).

5. Association

The Copy Principle accounts for the origins of our ideas. But our ideas are also
regularly connected. As Hume put the point in his "Abstract" of the Treatise,
"there is a secret tie or union among particular ideas, which causes the mind to
conjoin them more frequently together, and makes the one, upon its appearance,
introduce the other" (T, 662).

A science of human nature should account for these connections. Otherwise, we
are stuck with an eidetic atomism -- a set of discrete, independent ideas,
unified only in that they are the contents of a particular mind. Eidetic atomism
thus fails to explain how ideas are "bound together," and its inadequacy in this
regard encourages us, as Hume thought it encouraged Locke, to postulate
theoretical notions -- power and substance being the most notorious -- to
account for the connections we find among our ideas. Eidetic atomism is thus a
prime source of the philosophical "hypotheses" Hume aims to eliminate.
The principles required for connecting our ideas aren't theoretical and
rational; they are natural operations of the mind, associations we experience in
"internal sensation." Hume's introduction of these "principles of association"
is the other distinctive feature of his empiricism, so distinctive that in the
Abstract he advertises it as his most original contribution: "If any thing can
intitle the author to so glorious a name as that of an inventor, tis the use he
makes of the principle of the association of ideas" (T, 661-662).
Hume locates "three principles of connexion" or association: resemblance,
contiguity, and cause and effect. Of the three, causation is the only principle
that takes us "beyond the evidence of our memory and senses." It establishes a
link or connection between past and present experiences with events that we
predict or explain, so that "all reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be
founded on the relation of cause and effect." But causation and the ideas
closely related to it also raise serious metaphysical problems: "there are no
ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, than those of
power, force, energy or necessary connexion" (EHU, 61-62).
Hume wants to "fix, if possible, the precise meaning of these terms, and thereby
remove some part of that obscurity, which is so much complained of in this
species of philosophy" (EHU, 62). This project provides a crucial experiment for
Hume's metaphysical microscope, one designed to prove the worth of his method,
to provide a paradigm for investigating problematic philosophical and
theological notions, and to supply valuable material for these inquiries.

6. Causation: The Negative Phase

Hume's strategy dictates that he first show that alternative accounts of our
"causal reasonings" are inadequate. This negative project directs his
metaphysical microscope toward the intellectualist view that causal connections
are made on the basis of the operations of the understanding. Hume proceeds by
examining all of the possible ways in which our "causal reasonings" might be
based on reason.

Reasoning concerns either relations of ideas or matters of fact. Hume quickly
establishes that, whatever assures us that a causal relation obtains, it is not
reasoning concerning relations between ideas. Effects are distinct events from
their causes: we can always conceive of one such event occurring and the other
not. So causal reasoning can't be a priori reasoning.

Causes and effects are discovered, not by reason but through experience, when we
find that particular objects are constantly conjoined with one another. We tend
to overlook this because most ordinary causal judgments are so familiar; we've
made them so many times that our judgment seems immediate. But when we consider
the matter, we realize that "an (absolutely) unexperienced reasoner could be no
reasoner at all" (EHU, 45n). Even in applied mathematics, where we use abstract
reasoning and geometrical methods to apply principles we regard as laws to
particular cases in order to derive further principles as consequences of these
laws, the discovery of the original law itself was due to experience and
observation, not to a priori reasoning.

Even after we have experience of causal connections, our conclusions from those
experiences aren't based on any reasoning or on any other process of the
understanding. They are based on our past experiences of similar cases, without
which we could draw no conclusions at all.

But this leaves us without any link between the past and the future. How can we
justify extending our conclusions from past observation and experience to the
future? The connection between a proposition that summarizes past experience and
one that predicts what will occur at some future time is surely not an intuitive
connection; it needs to be established by reasoning or argument. The reasoning
involved must either be demonstrative, concerning relations of ideas, or
probable, concerning matters of fact and existence.

There is no room for demonstrative reasoning here. We can always conceive of a
change in the course of nature. However unlikely it may seem, such a supposition
is intelligible and can be distinctly conceived. It therefore implies no
contradiction, so it can't be proven false by a priori demonstrative reasoning.
Probable reasoning can't establish the connection, either, since it is based on
the relation of cause and effect. What we understand of that relation is based
on experience and any inference from experience is based on the supposition that
nature is uniform -- that the future will be like the past.

The connection could be established by adding a premise stating that nature is
uniform. But how could we justify such a claim? Appeal to experience will either
be circular or question-begging. For any such appeal must be founded on some
version of the uniformity principle itself -- the very principle we need to

This argument exhausts the ways reason might establish a connection between
cause and effect, and so completes the negative phase of Hume's project. The
explanatory model of human nature which makes reason prominent and dominant in
thought and action is indefensible. Scepticism about it is well-founded: the
model must go.

Hume insists that he offers his "sceptical doubts about the operations of the
understanding," not as "discouragement, but rather an attempt
something more full and satisfactory" (EHU, 26). Having cleared a space for his
own account, Hume is now ready to do just that.

7. Causation: The Positive Phase

Hume's negative argument showed that our causal expectations aren't formed on
the basis of reason. But we do form them, and "if the mind be not engaged by must be induced by some other principle of equal weight and
authority" (EHU, 41).

This principle can't be some "intricate or profound" metaphysical argument Hume
overlooked. For all of us -- ordinary people, infants, even animals -- "improve
by experience," forming causal expectations and refining them in the light of
experience. Hume's "sceptical solution" limits our inquiries to common life,
where no sophisticated metaphysical arguments are available and none are

When we examine experience to see how expectations are actually produced, we
discover that they arise after we have experienced "the constant conjunction of
two objects;" only then do we "expect the one from the appearance of the other."
But when "repetition of any particular act or operation produces a propensity to
renew the same act or operation...we always say, that this propensity is the
effect of Custom" (EHU, 43).

So the process that produces our causal expectations is itself causal. Custom or
habit "determines the suppose the future conformable to the past." But
if this background of experienced constant conjunctions was all that was
involved, then our "reasonings" would be merely hypothetical. Expecting that
fire will warm, however, isn't just conceiving of its warming, it is believing
that it will warm.

Belief requires that there also be some fact present to the senses or memory,
which gives "strength and solidity to the related idea." In these circumstances,
belief is as unavoidable as is the feeling of a passion; it is "a species of
natural instinct," "the necessary result of placing the mind" in this situation.
Belief is "a peculiar sentiment, or lively conception produced by habit" that
results from the manner in which ideas are conceived, and "in their feeling to
the mind." It is "nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady
conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain"
(EHU, 49). Belief is thus "more an act of the sensitive, than of the cogitative
part of our natures" (T, 183), so that "all probable reasoning is nothing but a
species of sensation" (T, 103). This should not be surprising, given that belief
is "so essential to the subsistence of all human creatures." "It is more
conformable to the ordinary wisdom of nature to secure so necessary an act of
the mind, by some instinct or mechanical tendency" than to trust it "to the
fallacious deductions of our reason" (EHU, 55). Hume's "sceptical solution" thus
gives a descriptive alternative, appropriately "independent of all the laboured
deductions of the understanding," to philosophers' attempts to account for our
causal "reasonings" by appeal to reason and argument. For the other notions in
the definitional circle, "either we have no idea of force or energy, and these
words are altogether insignificant, or they can mean nothing but that
determination of the thought, acquir'd by habit, to pass from the cause to its
usual effect" (T, 657).

8. Necessary Connection and the Definition of Cause

It remains only for Hume to "confirm and illustrate" his positive account by
providing a precise definition of our idea of causation. In doing so, he
accounts in his own terms for the necessary connection so many philosophers have
taken to be an essential component of the idea of causation.

As we should expect from the preceding discussion, when we examine a single case
of two events we regard as causally related, our impressions are only of their
conjunction; the single case, taken by itself, yields no notion of their
connection. When we go beyond the single case to examine the background of
experienced constant conjunctions of similar pairs of events, we find little to
add, for "there is nothing in a number of instances, different from every single
instance, which is supposed to be exactly similar" (EHU, 75). How can the mere
repetition of conjunctions produce a connection?

While there is indeed nothing added to our external senses by this exercise,
something does happen: "after a repetition of similar instances, the mind is
carried by habit, upon the appearance of one event, to expect its usual
attendant, and to believe that it will exist." We feel this transition as an
impression of reflection, or internal sensation, and it is this feeling of
determination that is "the sentiment or impression from which we form the idea
of power or necessary connexion. Nothing farther is in the case" (EHU, 75).
Although the impression of reflection -- the internal sensation -- is the source
of our idea of the connection, that experience wouldn't have occurred if we
hadn't had the requisite impressions of sensation -- the external impressions --
of the current situation, together with the background of memories of our past
impressions of relevant similar instances.

All the impressions involved are relevant to a complete account of the origin of
the idea, even though they seem, strictly speaking, to be "drawn from objects
foreign to the cause."

Hume sums up all of the relevant impressions in not one but two definitions of

The relation -- or the lack of it -- between these definitions has been a matter
of considerable controversy. If we follow his account of definition, however,
the first definition, which defines a cause as "an object, followed by another,
and where all objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to
the second" (EHU, 76), accounts for all the external impressions involved in the
case. His second definition, which defines a cause as "an object followed by
another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other" (EHU,
77) captures the internal sensation -- the feeling of determination -- involved.
Both are definitions, by Hume's account, but the "just definition" of cause he
claims to provide is expressed only by the conjunction of the two: only together
do the definitions capture all the relevant impressions involved.

Hume's account of causation provides a paradigm of how philosophy, as he
conceives it, should be done. He goes on to apply his method to other thorny
traditional problems of philosophy and theology: liberty and necessity,
miracles, design. In each case, the moral is that a priori reasoning and
argument gets us nowhere: "it is only experience which teaches us the nature and
bounds of cause and effect, and enables us to infer the existence of one object
from that of another. Such is the foundation of moral reasoning, which forms the
greater part of human knowledge, and is the source of all human action and
behaviour" (EHU, 164). Since we all have limited experience, our conclusions
should always be tentative, modest, reserved, cautious. This conservative,
fallibilist position, which Hume calls mitigated scepticism, is the proper
epistemic attitude for anyone "sensible of the strange infirmities of human
understanding" (EHU, 161).

9. Moral Philosophy

The cautious attitude Hume recommends is noticeably absent in moral philosophy,
where "systems and hypotheses" have also "perverted our natural understanding,"
the most prominent being the views of the moral rationalists -- Samuel Clarke,
Locke, and William Wollaston, the theories of "the selfish schools" -- Hobbes
and Mandeville -- and the pernicious theological ethics of "the schools," whose
promotion of the dismal "monkish virtues" frame a catalogue of virtues
diametrically opposed to Hume's. Although he offers arguments against the
"systems" he opposes, Hume thinks the strongest case against them is to be made
descriptively: all these theories offer accounts of human nature that experience
and observation prove false.

Against the moral rationalists -- the intellectualists of moral philosophy --
who hold that moral judgments are based on reason, Hume maintains that it is
difficult even to make their hypothesis intelligible (T, 455-470; EPM, Appendix
I). Reason, Hume argues, judges either of matters of fact or of relations.
Morality never consists in any single matter of fact that could be immediately
perceived, intuited, or grasped by reason alone; morality for rationalists must
therefore involve the perception of relations. But inanimate objects and animals
can bear the same relations to one another that humans can, though we don't draw
the same moral conclusions from determining that objects or animals are in a
given relation as we do when humans are in that same relation. Distinguishing
these cases requires more than reason alone can provide. Even if we could
determine an appropriate subject-matter for the moral rationalist, it would
still be the case that, after determining that a matter of fact or a relation
obtains, the understanding has no more room to operate, so the praise or blame
that follows can't be the work of reason.

Reason, Hume maintains, can at most inform us of the tendencies of actions. It
can recommend means for attaining a given end, but it can't recommend ultimate
ends. Reason can provide no motive to action, for reason alone is insufficient
to produce moral blame or approbation. We need sentiment to give a preference to
the useful tendencies of actions.

Finally, the moral rationalists' account of justice fares no better. Justice
can't be determined by examining a single case, since the advantage to society
of a rule of justice depends on how it works in general under the circumstances
in which it is introduced.

Thus the views of the moral rationalists on the role of reason in ethics, even
if they can be made coherent, are false.

Hume then turns to the claims of "the selfish schools," that morality is either
altogether illusory (Mandeville) or can be reduced to considerations of
self-interest (Hobbes). He argues that an accurate description of the social
virtues, benevolence and justice, will show that their views are false.

There has been much discussion over the differences between Hume's presentation
of these arguments in the Treatise and the second Enquiry. "Sympathy" is the key
term in the Treatise, while benevolence does the work in the Enquiry. But this
need not reflect any substantial shift in doctrine. If we look closely, we see
that benevolence plays much the same functional role in the Enquiry that
sympathy plays in the Treatise. Hume sometimes describes benevolence as a
manifestation of our "natural" or "social sympathy." In both texts, Hume's
central point is that we experience this "feeling for humanity" in ourselves and
observe it in others, so "the selfish hypothesis" is "contrary both to common
feeling and to our most unprejudiced notions" (EPM, 298).

Borrowing from Butler and Hutcheson, Hume argues that, however prominent
considerations of self-interest may be, we do find cases where, when
self-interest is not at stake, we respond with benevolence, not indifference. We
approve of benevolence in others, even when their benevolence is not, and never
will be, directed toward us. We even observe benevolence in animals. Haggling
over how much benevolence is found in human nature is pointless; that there is
any benevolence at all refutes the selfish hypothesis.

Against Hobbes, Hume argues that our benevolent sentiments can't be reduced to
self-interest. It is true that, when we desire the happiness of others, and try
to make them happy, we may enjoy doing so. But benevolence is necessary for our
self-enjoyment, and although we may act from the combined motives of benevolence
and enjoyment, our benevolent sentiments aren't identical with our

We approve of benevolence in large part because it is useful. Benevolent acts
tend to promote social welfare, and those who are benevolent are motivated to
cultivate the other social virtue, justice. But while benevolence is an original
principle in human nature, justice is not. Our need for rules of justice isn't
universal; it arises only under conditions of relative scarcity, where property
must be regulated to preserve order in society.

The need for rules of justice is also a function of a society's size. In very
small societies, where the members are more of an extended family, there may be
no need for rules of justice, because there is no need for regulating property
-- no need, indeed, for our notion of property at all. Only when society becomes
extensive enough that it is impossible for everyone in it to be part of one's
"narrow circle" does the need for rules of justice arise.

The rules of justice in a given society are "the product of artifice and
contrivance." They are constructed by the society to solve the problem of how to
regulate property; other rules might do just as well. The real need is for some
set of "general inflexible rules...adopted as best to serve public utility"
(EPM, 305).

Hobbesians try to reduce justice to self-interest, because everyone recognizes
that it is in their interest that there be rules regulating property. But even
here, the benefits for each individual result from the whole scheme or system
being in place, not from the fact that each just act benefits each individual
directly. As with benevolence, Hume argues that we approve of the system itself
even where our self-interest isn't at stake. We can see this not only from cases
in our own society, but also when we consider societies distant in space and

Hume's social virtues are related. Sentiments of benevolence draw us to society,
allow us to perceive its advantages, provide a source of approval for just acts,
and motivate us to do just acts ourselves. We approve of both virtues because we
recognize their role in promoting the happiness and prosperity of society. Their
functional roles are, nonetheless, distinct. Hume compares the benefits of
benevolence to "a wall, built by many hands, which still rises by every stone
that is heaped upon it, and receives increase proportional to the diligence and
care of each workman," while the happiness justice produces is like the results
of building "a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the
ground" (EPM, 305).

"Daily observation" confirms that we recognize and approve of the utility of
acts of benevolence and justice. While much of the agreeableness of the utility
we find in these acts may be due to the fact that they promote our
self-interest, it is also true that, in approving of useful acts, we don't
restrict ourselves to those that serve our particular interests. Similarly, our
private interests often differ from the public interest, but, despite our
sentiments in favor of our self-interest, we often also retain our sentiment in
favor of the public interest. Where these interests concur, we observe a
sensible increase of the sentiment, so it must be the case that the interests of
society are not entirely indifferent to us.

With that final nail in Hobbes' coffin, Hume turns to develop his account of the
sources of morality. Though we often approve or disapprove of the actions of
those remote from us in space and time, it is nonetheless true that, in
considering the acts of (say) an Athenian statesman, the good he produced
"affects us with a less lively sympathy," even though we judge their "merit to
be equally great" as the similar acts of our contemporaries. In such cases our
judgment "corrects the inequalities of our internal emotions and perceptions; in
like manner, as it preserves us from error, in the several variations of images,
presented to our external senses" (EPM, 227). Adjustment and correction is
necessary in both cases if we are to think and talk consistently and coherently.
"The intercourse of sentiments" that conversation produces is the vehicle for
these adjustments, for it takes us out of our own peculiar positions. We begin
to employ general language which, since it is formed for general use, "must be
moulded on some general views ... ." In so doing, we take up a "general" or
"common point of view," detached from our self-interested perspectives, to form
"some general unalterable standard, by which we may approve or disapprove of
characters and manners." We begin to "speak another language" -- the language of
morals, which "implies some sentiment common to all mankind, which recommends
the same object to general approbation, and makes every man, or most men, agree
in the same opinion or decision concerning it. It also implies some sentiment,
so universal and comprehensive as to extend to all mankind, and render the
actions and conduct, even of the persons the most remote, an object of applause
or censure, according as they agree or disagree with that rule of right which is
established. These two requisite circumstances belong alone to the sentiment of
humanity here insisted on" (EPM, 272). It is the extended or extensive sentiment
of humanity -- benevolence or sympathy -- that for Hume is ultimately "the
foundation of morals."

But even if the social virtues move us from a perspective of self-interest to
one more universal and extensive, it might appear that the individual virtues do
not. But since these virtues also receive our approbation because of their
usefulness, and since "these advantages are enjoyed by the person possessed of
the character, it can never be self-love which renders the prospect of them
agreeable to us, the spectators, and prompts our esteem and approbation" (EPM,

Just as we make judgments about others, we are aware, from infancy, that others
make judgments about us. We desire their approval and modify our behavior in
response to their judgments. This love of fame gives rise to the habit of
reflectively evaluating our own actions and character traits. We first see
ourselves as others see us, but eventually we develop our own standards of
evaluation, keeping "alive all the sentiments of right and wrong," which
"begats, in noble natures, a certain reverence" for ourselves as well as others,
"which is the surest guardian of every virtue" (EPM, 276). The general character
of moral language, produced and promoted by our social sympathies, permits us to
judge ourselves and others from the general point of view, the proper
perspective of morality. For Hume, that is "...the most perfect morality with
which we are acquainted" (EPM, 276).

Hume summarizes his account in this definition of virtue, or Personal Merit:
"every quality of the mind, which is useful or agreeable to the person himself
or to others, communicates a pleasure to the spectator, engages his esteem, and
is admitted under the honourable denomination of virtue or merit" (EPM, 277).
That is, as observers -- of ourselves as well as others -- to the extent that we
regard certain acts as manifestations of certain character traits, we consider
the usual tendencies of acts done from those traits, and find them useful or
agreeable, to the agent or to others, and approve or disapprove of them
accordingly. A striking feature of this definition is its precise parallel to
the two definitions of cause that Hume gave as the conclusion of his central
argument in the first Enquiry. Both definitions pick out features of events, and
both record a spectator's reaction or response to those events.

10. Politics, Criticism, History, and Religion

Hume's "Advertisement" for the first two books of the Treatise promised
subsequent works on morals, politics and criticism, but his Political
Discourses, "Of Tragedy," and "Of the Standard of Taste" are our only hints as
to what he might have said about those topics.

Hume's political essays range widely, covering not only the constitutional
issues one might expect, but also venturing into what we now call economics,
dealing with issues of commerce, luxury, and their implications for society. His
treatments of these scattered topics exhibit a unity of purpose and method that
makes the essays much more than the sum of their parts, and links them, not only
with his more narrowly philosophical concerns, but also with his earlier moral
and literary essays.

Adopting a causal, descriptive approach to the problems he discusses, Hume
stresses that current events and concerns are best understood by tracing them
historically to their origins. This approach contrasts sharply with contemporary
discussions, which treated these events as the products of chance, or -- worse
-- of providence. Hume substitutes a concern for the "moral causes" -- the human
choices and actions -- of the events, conditions, or institutions he considers.
This thoroughly secular approach is accentuated by his willingness to point out
the bad effects of superstition and enthusiasm on society, government, and
political and social life.

"Of the Standard of Taste" is a rich contribution to the then-emerging
discipline of what we now call aesthetics. This complex essay contains a lucid
statement of Hume's views on what constitutes "just criticism," but it is not
just about criticism, as some readers are beginning to realize. Though Hume's
account of aesthetic judgment precisely parallels his account of causal and
moral judgment, the essay also contains a discussion of how a naturalistic
theory might deal with questions of normativity, and so is important, not just
as a significant contribution to Hume's overall view, but also for its immediate
relevance for problems in contemporary empirical naturalism.

Hume's History of England, published in six volumes over as many years in the
1750s, recalls his characterization, in the first Enquiry, of history as "so
many collections of experiments." Hume not surprisingly rejects the theoretical
commitments of both Tory and Whig accounts of British history, and offers what
he believes is an impartial account that looks at political institutions as
historical developments responsive to Britons' experience of changing
conditions, evaluating political decisions in the contexts in which they were
made, instead of second-guessing them in the light of subsequent developments.
The Natural History of Religion is also a history in a sense, though it has been
described as "philosophical" or "conjectural" history. It is an account of the
origins and development of religious beliefs, with the thinly-disguised agenda
of making clear not only the nonrational origins of religion, but also of
exposing and describing the pathology of its current forms. Religion began in
the postulation, by primitive peoples, of "invisible intelligences" to account
for frightening, uncontrollable natural phenomena, such as disease and
earthquakes. In its original forms, it was polytheistic, which Hume regards as
relatively harmless because of its tolerance of diversity. But polytheism
eventually gives way to monotheism, when the followers of one deity hold sway
over the others. Monotheism is dogmatic and intolerant; worse, it gives rise to
theological systems which spread absurdity and intolerance, but which use reason
to corrupt philosophical thought. But since religion is not universal in the way
that our nonrational beliefs in causation or physical objects are, perhaps it
can eventually be dislodged from human thinking altogether.

Hume's Natural History cemented his reputation as a religious sceptic and an
atheist, even before its publication. Prompted by his own prudence, as well as
the pleas of his friends, he resisted publishing the Dialogues concerning
Natural Religion, which he had worked on since the early 1750s, though he
continued revising the manuscript until his death. An expansion and dramatic
revision of the argument previewed in Section XI of the first Enquiry, the
Dialogues are so riddled with irony that controversy still rages as to what
character, if any, speaks for Hume. But his devastating critique of the argument
from design leaves no doubt that -- scholarly details about its enigmatic final
section aside -- the conclusions philosophers and theologians have drawn from
that argument go far beyond any evidence the argument itself provides.
A fitting conclusion to a philosophical life, the posthumously published
Dialogues would alone insure the philosophical and literary immortality of their
author. In this magnificent work, Hume demonstrates his mastery of the dialogue
form, while producing the preeminent work in the philosophy of religion.


Hume's Works

The abbreviations and texts cited above are as follows:

[T]A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge, 2nd ed.
revised by P.H. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975. [Page
references above are to this edition.]
A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J.
Norton, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2000
[EHU]Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, in Enquiries concerning
Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by
L. A. Selby-Bigge, 3rd edition revised by P. H. Nidditch, Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1975. [Page references above are to this edition.]
An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp,
Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1999
[EPM]Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by L. A.
Selby-Bigge, 3rd edition revised by P. H. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1975. [Page references above are to this edition.]
Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp,
Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1998
[HL]The Letters of David Hume, edited by J.Y.T. Greig, 2 volumes,
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932. [This edition also contains Hume's
autobiographical essay, "My Own Life" (HL, I:1-7).]

Other works by Hume and editions of Hume's writings are:

Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, edited by Norman Kemp Smith, Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1935
The Natural History of Religion, edited by H. E. Root, Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1967
Essays, Moral, Political, Literary, edited by Eugene F. Miller, Indianapolis:
Liberty Classics, 1985
The History of England, edited by William B. Todd, Indianapolis: Liberty
Classics, 1983
In addition to the letters found in [HL], Hume's correspondence may be found in:

New Letters of David Hume, edited by Raymond Klibansky and Ernest C. Mossner,
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954

Finally, the closest thing at present to a complete edition remains that of
Green and Grose:

The Philosophical Works of David Hume, edited by T. H. Green and T. H. Grose.
4 volumes, London: Longman, Green, 1874-75

Bibliographical Studies

A useful bibliography of work on Hume is:

Hall, Roland. Fifty Years of Hume Scholarship: A Bibliographical Guide,
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1978
Hall also prepared annual bibliographies of the Hume literature for Hume
Studies, a journal specializing in work on Hume, for the years 1977-1986;
these bibliographies appeared in the November issues of that journal from 1978
to 1988
Hume Studies revived the practice of including bibliographies with its
November 1994 issue, which contained a comprehensive bibliography of the Hume
literature from 1986-1993 by William Edward Morris. Subsequent volumes contain
annual supplements to this bibiliography, also by Morris
Works on Hume
rdal, Pll S. Passion and Value in Hume's Treatise, Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press, 1966; 2nd edition, revised, 1989
Baier, Annette C. A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume's Treatise,
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991
Beauchamp, Tom L. and Alexander Rosenberg. Hume and the Problem of Causation,
New York: Oxford University Press, 1981
Bennett, Jonathan. Locke, Berkeley, Hume: Central Themes, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1973
Bricke, John. Hume's Philosophy of Mind, Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1980
Box, Mark A. The Suasive Art of David Hume, Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1990
Capaldi, Nicholas. Hume's Place in Moral Philosophy, New York: Peter Lang,
Fogelin, Robert. Hume's Scepticism in the Treatise of Human Nature, London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985
Garrett, Don. Cognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy, Oxford/New York:
Oxford University Press, 1996
Jones, Peter. Hume's Sentiments, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1982
Livingston, Donald W. Hume's Philosophy of Common Life, Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1984
Livingston, Donald W. Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium: Hume's Pathology
of Philosophy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998
Mossner, Ernest Campbell. The Life of David Hume, London: Nelson, 1954
Norton, David Fate. David Hume, Common Sense Moralist, Sceptical
Metaphysician, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982
Norton, David Fate (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Hume, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1993
Noxon, James. Hume's Philosophical Development, Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1973
Owen, David. Hume's Reason, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Passmore, John. Hume's Intentions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952
Pears, David. Hume's System, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990
Penelhum, Terence. Hume, London: Macmillan, 1975
Russell, Paul. Freedom and Moral Sentiment, New York: Oxford University Press,
Smith, Norman Kemp. The Philosophy of David Hume, London: Macmillan, 1941
Stewart, John B. Opinion and Reform in Hume's Political Philosophy, Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1992
Stewart, M. A. and John P. Wright. Hume and Hume's Connexions, Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press, 1994
Strawson, Galen. The Secret Connexion: Causation, Realism and David Hume,
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989
Stroud, Barry. Hume, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977
Wright, John P. The Sceptical Realism of David Hume, Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 1983
Other Internet Resources
The Leeds Hume Project, University of Leeds
The Hume Society, based at the Philosophy Department, University of Iceland
David Hume page, by Bill Uzgalis (Philosophy/Oregon State University),
including links to texts of the Enquiry
Bibliography on Hume, by Adam Potkay (English, William and Mary)
Ty's Hume Homepage, maintained by D. Tycerium Lightner

Entries on Hume in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by James Fieser,
U. Tennessee/Martin
Hume's Life and Writings
Hume's Metaphysical and Epistemological Theories
Hume's Moral Theories
Hume's Writing's on Religion
Hume's Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary

Related Entries
Berkeley, George | Hobbes, Thomas | Locke, John | miracles


Promoting the Principles of Religious Liberty