David Hume, The Natural History of Religion (1889 ed.) [1757]

Hume describes their operation as a causal process: custom or habit isthe cause of the particular propensity you form after your repeatedexperiences of the constant conjunction of smoke and fire. Causationis the operative associative principle here, since it is the only oneof those principles that can take us beyond our senses andmemories.

Hume inherits from his predecessors several controversies aboutethics and political philosophy.

David Hume argues that, “no proof can be derived from any fact, of which we are so intimately conscious; nor is there anything of which we can be certain, if we doubt this” (Treatise 2645).


David Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary | …

by Henry David Aiken (Free Press, 1975)Additional on-line information about Hume includes:

This essay seeks to examine the inequalities of distribution of resources and the defences of these inequalities provided by John Locke, in Of Property , and David Hume in Of Justice .


Hume, David: Religion | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Reason for Hume is essentially passive and inert: it is incapable byitself of giving rise to new motives or new ideas. Although he thinksthe argument from motivation is decisive, in T 3.1.1, he offers abattery of additional arguments, which are intended to show that moralconcepts do not arise from reason alone.

Hume, David: Causation | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The argument from motivation has only two premises. The first is thatmoral ideas have pervasive practical effects. Experience shows that weare often motivated to perform an action because we think it isobligatory or to refrain because we think it is unjust. We try tocultivate the virtues in ourselves and are proud when we succeed andashamed when we fail. If morality did not have these effects on ourpassions and actions, moral rules and precepts would be pointless, aswould our efforts to be virtuous. Thus “morals excite passions,and produce or prevent actions” (T 3.1.1.6/457).

Hume essays concerning human understanding God lonely man es

Hume takes the defeat of rationalism to entail that moral conceptsspring from sentiment. Of course, he was not the first to claim thatmoral ideas arise from sentiment. Hutcheson claimed that we possess,in addition to our external senses, a special moral sense thatdisposes us to respond to benevolence with the distinctive feelings ofapprobation. Hume, however, rejects the idea that the moralsentiments arise from a sense that is an “originalquality” and part of our “primaryconstitution”.

David Hume Introduction - Essay - eNotescom

The second prong of Hume's objection, the argument from motivation, isdirected primarily against Clarke and concerns the source of our moralconcepts: either they spring from reason or from sentiment. Couchingthis debate in terms of his own version of the theory of ideas, hereminds us that to engage in any sort of mental activity is to have aperception before the mind, so “to approve of one character, tocondemn another, are only so many different perceptions” (T3.1.1.2/456). Since there are only two types of perception—ideasand impressions—the question between rationalism andsentimentalism is