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Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals

Edited by Jacqueline Taylor

Publication Date - May 2020

ISBN: 9780199603749

368 pages
9.2 x 6.0 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $39.95


Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals is one of the landmark works in the history of moral philosophy; this volume presents a section-by-section study of the work in the form of new interpretative essays by leading Hume scholars. The result is a comprehensive reassessment of Hume's 'recasting' of his moral philosophy in this work. Particular attention is given to the Enlightenment concepts of justice and benevolence, as well as to the concept of humanity and moral sentiment. Fifteen original chapters take the reader through the nine sections and four appendices of Hume's Enquiry, as well as 'A Dialogue,' to assess critically the moral philosophy he presents. How does it differ from the moral philosophy of the Treatise, and how should we understand the significance of the arguments he advances? Additional chapters examine the relation between Hume's mature moral philosophy and related subjects such as his epistemology, his writings on religion, beauty and criticism, the passions, and his own intellectual and philosophical development during the period in which he conceived and wrote the Enquiry.


  • The ideal companion to study of one of the classic texts of moral philosophy
  • Original contributions from leading Hume scholars
  • Chapters are arranged to follow the structure of Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals for selective reading
  • A novel examination of Enquiry which will broaden the scope of future research in Hume scholarship and moral philosophy

About the Author(s)

Jacqueline Taylor, University of San Francisco

Jacqueline Taylor is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. She is author of Reflecting Subjects: Passion, Sympathy, and Society in Hume's Philosophy (OUP 2015), as well as numerous articles on Hume, the Enlightenment, and moral psychology. She is also co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Hume (CUP 2009).

Table of Contents

    Introduction, Jacqueline Taylor
    1. Hume's Revisions, and the Structure and Main Argument of EPM, Jacqueline Taylor
    2. The Biographical Background of the Second Enquiry, Moritz Baumstark
    3. Benevolence and Self-Interest in Hume's Moral Philosophy, Angela Calvo De Saavedra
    4. Justice in An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, James Harris
    5. Sympathy, Humanity, and the Foundation of Morals, Anthony E. Pitson
    6. Hume's Innovative Taxonomy of the Virtues, Colin Heydt
    7. Virtue as a Means to Happiness in Hume's Second Enquiry, Rachel Cohon
    8. "Concerning Moral Sentiment": The Moral Sense in the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, P. J. E. Kail
    9. Hume on Personal Merit: Virtue, Talent, and the Import of EPM Appendix 4, Remy Debes
    10. Moral Pluralism and the Historical Point of View: Reading "A Dialogue", Dario Perinetti
    11. Negotiating Pluralism in Taste and Character: Reading the Second Enquiry with "Of the Standard of Taste", Amy Schmitter
    12. Religion and the Perversion of Philosophy in Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, Thomas Holden
    13. The Passions in An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Jane L. McIntyre
    14. The Relation between Hume's Two Enquiries, Peter Millican
    15. The eloquent "Enquiry": Merit or Virtue in its Proper Colours, Emilio Mazza