•  48
    Hume's Legacy: A Cognitive Science Perspective
    In Angela Coventry & Alex Sager (eds.), The Humean Mind, Routledge. pp. 434-445. 2018.
    Hume is an experimental philosopher who attempts to understand why we think, feel, and act as we do. But how should we evaluate the adequacy of his proposals? This chapter examines Hume’s account from the perspective of interdisciplinary work in cognitive science.
  •  67
    The aesthetic skeptic maintains that it is futile to dispute about taste. One and the same work of art might appear beautiful to one person but repellent to another, and we have no reason to prefer one or another of these conflicting verdicts. Hume argues that the skeptic, however, moves too quickly. The crucial question is whether qualified critics will agree on their evaluations. And the skeptic fails to provide sufficient evidence that their verdicts will diverge. We have reason to expec…Read more
  •  96
    The Natural Foundations of Religion
    Philosophical Psychology 27 (5): 665-680. 2013.
    In the Natural history of religion, Hume attempts to understand the origin of our folk belief in gods and spirits. These investigations are not, however, purely descriptive. Hume demonstrates that ontological commitment to supernatural agents depends on motivated reasoning and illusions of control. These beliefs cannot, then, be reflectively endorsed. This proposal must be taken seriously because it receives support from recent work on our psychological responses to uncertainty. It also compares…Read more
  •  287
    Death & character: Further reflections on Hume (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (2). 2010.
    The first half of Annette Baier's book opens up a fascinating new area of Hume scholarship. We all know that Hume wore two hats, as a philosopher and a historian. But what exactly is the relationship between his general philosophical writings and his History of England? In particular, what can his portrayals of influential monarchs and religious leaders, such as Oliver Cromwell or Bishop Tunstal, teach us about his philosophical commitments?
  •  1
    Newton of the Mind: An Examination of Hume's Science of Human Nature
    Dissertation, University of California, San Diego. 1999.
    In my dissertation, I examine Hume's attempt to formulate a science of human nature on par with Newton's science of physical nature. There are a number of reasons why Hume's positive proposals about the workings of the mind and the development of knowledge must be taken seriously. First, his science of human nature is more sophisticated than previously recognized. The central hypothesis of Hume's account is that all knowledge emerges from the interaction of sensory information with associative p…Read more
  •  981
    Hume’s Science of Emotions
    Hume Studies 37 (1): 3-18. 2011.
    We must rethink the status of Hume’s science of emotions. Contemporary philosophers typically dismiss Hume’s account on the grounds that he mistakenly identifies emotions with feelings. But the traditional objections to Hume’s feeling theory are not as strong as commonly thought. Hume makes several important contributions, moreover, to our understanding of the operations of the emotions. His claims about the causal antecedents of the indirect passions receive support from studies in appraisal th…Read more
  •  256
    The Humean Approach to Moral Diversity
    Journal of Scottish Philosophy 11 (1): 41-52. 2013.
    In ‘A Dialogue’, Hume offers an important reply to the moral skeptic. Skeptics traditionally point to instances of moral diversity in support of the claim that our core values are fixed by enculturation. Hume argues that the skeptic exaggerates the amount of variation in moral codes, however, and fails to adopt an indulgent stance toward attitudes different from ours. Hume proposes a charitable interpretation of moral disagreement, moreover, which traces it back to shared principles of human nat…Read more
  •  133
    Hume's Natural History of Justice
    In C. Taylor & S. Buckle (eds.), Hume and the Enlightenment, Pickering & Chatto. pp. 131-142. 2011.
    In Book III, Part 2 of the Treatise, Hume presents a natural history of justice.  Self-interest clearly plays a central role in his account; our ancestors invented justice conventions, he maintains, for the sake of reciprocal advantage.  But this is not what makes his approach so novel and attractive. Hume recognizes that prudential considerations are not sufficient to explain how human beings – with our propensities towards temporal discounting and free-riding – could have established conventi…Read more
  •  309
    Hume's Theory of Moral Imagination
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (3): 255-273. 2010.
    David Hume endorses three claims that are difficult to reconcile: (1) sympathy with those in distress is sufficient to produce compassion towards their plight, (2) adopting the general point of view often requires us to sympathize with the pain and suffering of distant strangers, but (3) our care and concern is limited to those in our close circle. Hume manages to resolve this tension, however, by distinguishing two types of sympathy. We feel compassion towards those around us because associat…Read more
  •  91
    In Book I, part iv, section 2 of the Treatise, "Of scepticism with regard to the senses," Hume presents two different answers to the question of how we come to believe in the continued existence of unperceived objects. He rejects his first answer shortly after its formulation, and the remainder of the section articulates an alternative account of the development of the belief. The account that Hume adopts, however, is susceptible to a number of insurmountable objections, which motivates a reasse…Read more
  •  184
    A New Look at Hume’s Theory of Probabilistic Inference
    Hume Studies 31 (1): 21-36. 2005.
    We must rethink our assessment of Hume’s theory of probabilistic inference. Hume scholars have traditionally dismissed his naturalistic explanation of how we make inferences under conditions of uncertainty; however, psychological experiments and computer models from cognitive science provide substantial support for Hume’s account. Hume’s theory of probabilistic inference is far from obsolete or outdated; on the contrary, it stands at the leading edge of our contemporary science of the mind.
  •  90
    Why history matters: Associations and causal judgment in Hume and cognitive science
    Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (3): 175-188. 2007.
    It is commonly thought that Hume endorses the claim that causal cognition can be fully explained in terms of nothing but custom and habit. Associative learning does, of course, play a major role in the cognitive psychology of the Treatise. But Hume recognizes that associations cannot provide a complete account of causal thought. If human beings lacked the capacity to reflect on rules for judging causes and effects, then we could not (as we do) distinguish between accidental and genuine regula…Read more
  •  152
    Hume and cognitive science: The current status of the controversy over abstract ideas
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4 (2): 197-207. 2005.
    In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible theory of general ideas; indeed, …Read more
  •  135
    Two Puzzles in Hume's Epistemology
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 25 (4). 2008.
    There are two major puzzles in Hume’s epistemology. The first involves Hume’s fall into despair in the conclusion of Book One of the Treatise. When Hume reflects back upon the results of his research, he becomes so alarmed that he nearly throws his books and papers into the fire. Why did his investigations push him towards such intense skeptical sentiments? What dark discoveries did he make? The second puzzle concerns the way in which Hume emerges from this skeptical crisis and proceeds wit…Read more