Chapter

Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume’s Epistemology

Rico Vitz

in The Ethics of Belief

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780199686520
Published online September 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191766343 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686520.003.0012
Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume’s Epistemology

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This chapter elucidates a Humean account of ways in which beliefs are, and ought to be, formed by means of social interactions. The chapter proceeds in three parts. In the first part, it explains, briefly, Hume’s account of belief. In the second, it (1) elucidates Hume’s conception of ’contagion’, a process by which people naturally adopt the passions and opinions of others, (2) clarifies the way that beliefs are acquired by this process, and (3) explains why, in many cases, such ’contagious beliefs’ are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to revise. In the third part, it elucidates a Humean account of the conditions under which virtuous doxastic agents ought to resist ’contagious beliefs’.

Keywords: Hume; epistemology; virtue; belief; sympathy; contagion

Chapter.  9594 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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