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Course :  Thomas Reid's Critique of David Hume

  • Posted by : Brad Younger

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  • Date posted : Jan 01, 1970

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Dan Robinson gives the seventh of eight lectures on Reid's critique of David Hume at Oxford. In his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals [1751], Hume states: "The final sentence, it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praise-worthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the mark of honour or infamy, approbation or censure; that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery; it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species". The ruling motives are shaped by considerations of utility. "The rage and violence of public war; what is it but a suspension of justice among the warring parties, who perceive, that this virtue is now no longer of any USE or advantage to them? The laws of war, which then succeed to those of equity and justice, are rules calculated for the ADVANTAGE and UTILITY..." Under "David Hume", the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy begins with, "The most important philosopher ever to write in English". His most formidable contemporary critic was the fellow Scot, Thomas Reid, the major architect of so-called Scottish Common Sense Philosophy. The most significant features of Hume's work, as understood by Reid, are the representive theory of perception, the nature of causation and causal concepts, the nature of personal identity and the foundations of morality. Each of these topics is presented in a pair of lectures, the first summarizing Hume's position and the second Reid's critique of that position.

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