1st Edition

Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion A Philosophical Appraisal

Edited By Kenneth Williford Copyright 2024
    444 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is a philosophical and literary classic of the highest order. It is also an extremely relevant work because of its engagement with issues as alive today as in Hume’s time: the Design Argument for a deity, the Problem of Evil, the dangers of superstition and fanaticism, the psychological roots and social consequences of religion.

    In this outstanding and unorthodox collection, an international team of scholars engage with Hume’s classic work. The chapters include state-of-the-art contributions on the central interpretive questions posed by the Dialogues as well as major contributions relating the work to contemporary issues in Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Moral Psychology, and Social Philosophy. Additional contributions tackle the historical and philosophical background of the Dialogues, relating it to Hume’s own systematic philosophy, to the work of other key seventeenth and eighteenth-century figures – Locke, Clarke, Bayle, Cudworth, Malebranche, Spinoza, Lord Bolingbroke, and Voltaire, among others – to early modern neo-Epicureanism in the life sciences, and, notably, to what Darwin missed by thinking too much like William Paley and not enough like Hume’s Philo.

    Overall, this volume provides fresh and even groundbreaking perspectives on Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. It is essential reading for students and scholars of Hume, the History of Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion and the History and Philosophy of Science.

    Introduction Kenneth Williford

    Part 1: Two Overtures to Raillery

    1. Hume’s Dialogues: Cautious, Artful and Funny Simon Blackburn

    2. Recipes or, Philosophy for Fun Clark Glymour

    Part 2: Theistic "Proofs"

    3. A Bayesian Double Negative: A Critique of Hume’s Treatment of the Design Argument in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and A Critique of the Design Argument Itself Elliott Sober

    4. Cleanthes’ Challenge and the ‘Irregular’ Argument from Design Todd Ryan

    5. Hume, Locke, and the Demonstrability of God’s Existence Annemarie Butler

    Part 3: Matters of Interpretation

    6. Hume’s ‘Artful’ Masterpiece: The Dialogues and the Concealed Case for Atheism Andrew Pyle

    7. Not Hoist with his own Petard: Hume’s Dance with Skepticism in Dialogues, Part I Evan Fales

    8. Demea’s Departure Revisited Lorne Falkenstein

    9. Hume’s Palimpsest: The Four Endings of the Dialogues Emilio Mazza and Gianluca Mori

    Part 4: Religion, Passion, and the Limits of Reason

    10. Natural Religion’s "Dangerous Consequences" David O’Connor

    11. Reason and Passion in Hume’s Philosophy of Religion John P. Wright

    12. Philo’s Two Designers and Humean Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone Charles Nussbaum

    Part 5: Epicurus and Darwin, Strato and Spinoza

    13. Hume, Darwin, and the "Epicurean Hypothesis" John Reiss

    14. Philo’s Trojan Horse: The World Soul Hypothesis and the Necessitarianism Inside Peter LeGrant

    15. Philo, Strato, and Spinoza Kenneth Williford.



    Kenneth Williford is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at The University of Texas at Arlington, USA. He works primarily in Philosophy of Mind, Phenomenology, and the History of Modern Philosophy.