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The Ethics of Belief$
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Jonathan Matheson and Rico Vitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686520

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686520.001.0001

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Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume’s Epistemology

Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume’s Epistemology

(p.198) 11 Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume’s Epistemology
The Ethics of Belief

Rico Vitz

Oxford University Press

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

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