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Hume

If Descartes is the father of modern philosophy, Hume is the person who gave shape to the contemporary philosophical world. First by querying Descartes' theories about knowledge, and then developing his own modest account of knowledge, and later his theories of ethics and aesthetics.

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Reason vs Passion

Hume has said some very provocative things about the roles of, and the relations between, reasons and passions. "We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of passions, and can never pretend to be any other office than to serve and obey them." What is Hume's arguments for the claims he made? Copyright 2013 La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Please contact for permissions.

29mins

25 Sep 2013

Rank #1

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Moral Foundations

If Hume is right in arguing that reason alone is not sufficient to generate moral judgements that distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, then what are the missing ingredients? This question brings us to Hume's positive account on the foundations of human morality. Copyright 2013 La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Please contact for permissions.

46mins

8 Nov 2013

Rank #2

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Moral Motivations

According to Hume, reason alone can never determine the distinction between moral good and evil. We can never find out whether an act is morally right or wrong just by using our reasoning. Copyright 2013 La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Please contact for permissions.

36mins

8 Nov 2013

Rank #3

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Inter-Species Sympathy/Empathy

According to Hume, many nonhuman animals (or beings whom he sometimes calls 'sensible creatures') are analogous to human beings in respects of the body and the mind. We are able to sympathise with an animal in similar ways we sympathise with another human being. Copyright 2013 La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Please contact for permissions.

46mins

11 Nov 2013

Rank #4

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Sympathy/Empathy

‘Sympathy’ (or what is now often called ‘empathy’) is in Hume’s view a complex mechanism of the human mind which relies on the combined operation of three more fundamental principles: the ‘copy principle’, principle of ‘association of ideas’, and the principle of more vivid perceptions ‘enlivening’ less vivid associated perceptions. Copyright 2013 La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Please contact for permissions.

47mins

11 Nov 2013

Rank #5