Book Chapter

Hume, teleology and the 'science of man'


This chapter focuses on human nature and morality, realms that resisted the early modern move away from teleology towards naturalistic explanation. It discusses three levels at which teleological considerations have been incorporated into philosophical accounts of man and nature, and sketch David Hume’s criticisms of the approaches. The chapter describes Hume’s non-teleological ‘science of man’. It explores the relation between Hume’s account of human nature and contemporary evolutionary accounts of morality and reasoning. There are distinct domains or ways of thinking of reality within which teleology can be seen as relevant, that is, with respect to the causal interaction between ordinary objects in the world, with respect to individuals and with respect to society and political progress. J. Harris is right that Hume often meets religion with humour rather than anger or frustration, but the humour is often cutting, mocking and acerbic, particularly so in the History of England.

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Greco, Lorenzo
O’Brien, Dan

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of History, Philosophy and Culture


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-10-09

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Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Hume, teleology and the ‘science of man’
This RADAR resource is Part of Teleology and modernity [ISBN: 9780815351030] edited by William Gibson, Dan O'Brien, Marius Turda.


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