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The Riddle of Hume's TreatiseSkepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion$
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Paul Russell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195110333

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110333.001.0001

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Morality without Religion

Morality without Religion

(p.239) 17 Morality without Religion
The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Paul Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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