Chapter

Morality without Religion

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110333.003.0017
Morality without Religion

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According to the irreligious interpretation, there are two key claims that Hume seeks to establish in the Treatise in respect of morality. The first is that Hume defends the “autonomy of morality” in relation to religion. The foundations of moral and political life, he holds, rest with our human nature, not with the doctrines and dogmas of (Christian) religion. Closely connected with this issue, Hume also aims to show that “speculative atheism” does not imply “practical atheism” or any kind of “moral licentiousness.” Taken together, these two components of Hume's moral system constitute a defence and interpretation of “virtuous atheism.”

Keywords: Pierre Bayle; Samuel Clarke; Thomas Hobbes; Francis Hutcheson; Bernard Mandeville; moral skepticism; moral sense; naturalism (moral); rationalism (ethical); Lord Shaftesbury; virtuous atheism

Chapter.  13428 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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