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The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion

New York: Oxford University Press (2008)

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  1. Spinoza, Hume, and the fate of the natural law tradition.Rudmer Bijlsma - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 76 (4):267-283.
    This paper explores the common ground in the views on natural law, justice and sociopolitical development in Hume and Spinoza. Spinoza develops a radically revisionary position in the natural law debate, building upon the bold equation of right and power. Hume is best interpreted as offering a skeptical–empirical reworking of traditional natural law theories, which maintains much of the practical purport of these theories, while providing it with a new, metaphysically less firm, but also less problematic, foundation. What the two (...)
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  • The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering (Open Access).Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Why did such highly abstract ideas as truth, knowledge, or justice become so important to us? What was the point of coming to think in these terms? This book presents a philosophical method designed to answer such questions: the method of pragmatic genealogy. Pragmatic genealogies are partly fictional, partly historical narratives exploring what might have driven us to develop certain ideas in order to discover what these do for us. The book uncovers an under-appreciated tradition of pragmatic genealogy which cuts (...)
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  • The Shaken Realist: Bernard Williams, the War, and Philosophy as Cultural Critique.Nikhil Krishnan & Matthieu Queloz - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):226-247.
    Bernard Williams thought that philosophy should address real human concerns felt beyond academic philosophy. But what wider concerns are addressed by Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, a book he introduces as being ‘principally about how things are in moral philosophy’? In this article, we argue that Williams responded to the concerns of his day indirectly, refraining from explicitly claiming wider cultural relevance, but hinting at it in the pair of epigraphs that opens the main text. This was Williams’s solution (...)
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  • Marching on the Capital: Hume's Experimental Science of Man as a Conquest for Occupied Territory.Gabriel Watts - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (3):233-255.
    In this paper I set out what I call a ‘conquest’ conception of Hume's experimental science of man. It is notable, I claim, that Hume regards what he calls the ‘capital’ of the sciences – ‘the science of MAN’ – as occupied territory, and that he views his ‘direct’ method of approach upon the science of human nature as a ‘conquest’. I expand upon such statements by leveraging the comparison that Hume draws between experimental moral philosophy and the experimental tradition (...)
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  • A dívida de Hume com Pascal.Plínio Junqueira Smith - 2011 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 52 (124):365-384.
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  • Hume’a rozum ateologiczny.Tomasz Sieczkowski - 2021 - Ruch Filozoficzny 76 (3):187.
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  • Philosophy of religion and two types of atheology.John R. Shook - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 76 (1):1-19.
    Atheism is skeptical towards gods, and atheology advances philosophical positions defending the reasonableness of that rejection. The history of philosophy encompasses many unorthodox and irreligious movements of thought, and these varieties of unbelief deserve more exegesis and analysis than presently available. Going back to philosophy’s origins, two primary types of atheology have dominated the advancement of atheism, yet they have not cooperated very well. Materialist philosophies assemble cosmologies that leave nothing for gods to do, while skeptical philosophies find conceptions of (...)
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  • Paul Russell. The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. 424. $99.00 ; $34.95. [REVIEW]Eric Schliesser - 2013 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):172-175.
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  • Hume’s Optimism and Williams’s Pessimism From ‘Science of Man’ to Genealogical Critique.Paul Russell - 2018 - In Sophie Grace Chappell & Marcel van Ackeren (eds.), Ethics Beyond the Limits: New Essays on Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 37-52.
    Bernard Williams is widely recognized as belonging among the greatest and most influential moral philosophers of the twentieth-century – and arguably the greatest British moral philosopher of the late twentieth-century. His various contributions over a period of nearly half a century changed the course of the subject and challenged many of its deepest assumptions and prejudices. There are, nevertheless, a number of respects in which the interpretation of his work is neither easy nor straightforward. One reason for this is that (...)
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  • Hume's Philosophy of Irreligion and the Myth of British Empiricism.Paul Russell - 2012 - In Alan Bailey & Dan O'Brien (eds.), The Continuum Companion to Hume. Continuum. pp. 377-395.
    This chapter outlines an alternative interpretation of Hume’s philosophy, one that aims, among other things, to explain some of the most perplexing puzzles concerning the relationship between Hume’s skepticism and his naturalism. The key to solving these puzzles, it is argued, rests with recognizing Hume’s fundamental irreligious aims and objectives, beginning with his first and greatest work, A Treatise of Human Nature. The irreligious interpretation not only reconfigures our understanding of the unity and structure of Hume’s thought, it also provides (...)
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  • Genealogy, Evaluation, and Engineering.Matthieu Queloz - 2022 - The Monist 105 (4):435-451.
    Against those who identify genealogy with reductive genealogical debunking or deny it any evaluative and action-guiding significance, I argue for the following three claims: that although genealogies, true to their Enlightenment origins, tend to trace the higher to the lower, they need not reduce the higher to the lower, but can elucidate the relation between them and put us in a position to think more realistically about both relata; that if we think of genealogy’s normative significance in terms of a (...)
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  • "More Affected than Real": Hume and Religious Belief.A. E. Pitson - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (3):691-721.
    Hume’s remark that “the conviction of religionists, in all ages, is more affected than real” is considered in relation to various monotheistic beliefs against the background of his account of belief more generally. The issue arises as to what Hume means by characterizing the assent associated with religious belief as an operation between disbelief and conviction. According to Hume, the obscurity of the ideas involved in the religious convictions of the “vulgar” prevents them from achieving the force and vivacity characteristic (...)
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  • Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals and The Whole Duty of Man.Esther Engels Kroeker - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):117-132.
    I examine, in this paper, the contents of one of the most famous religious texts of the early modern period, The Whole Duty of Man, and I show that Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Man is an attempt to reappropriate and replace the Anglican devotional with his own moral philosophy. Hume would reject the devotional's general methodology, its claims about the foundation of morality, and its list of duties. However, a careful reading of The Whole Duty of Man reveals (...)
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  • Philo’s Argument from Evil in Hume’s Dialogues X: A Semantic Interpretation. [REVIEW]Anders Kraal - 2013 - Sophia 52 (4):573-592.
    Philo's argument from evil in a much-discussed passage in Part X of Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) has been interpreted in three main ways: as a logical argument from evil, as an evidential argument from evil, and as an argument against natural theology's inference of a benevolent and merciful God from the course of the world. I argue that Philo is not offering an argument of any of these sorts, but is arguing that there is a radical disanalogy between (...)
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  • Religion and Its Natural History.P. J. E. Kail - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (3):675-689.
    This paper discusses the role of Hume’s “Natural History of Religion” (NHR) in his campaign against the rational acceptability of religious belief by discussing and rebutting some objections have been lodged to my previous presentations of my reading of the NHR. In earlier work I argued that the causal account of religious belief offered therein, if accepted as the best account, rationally destabilizes that belief. By this, I mean that acknowledging that the account is the best of the belief provides (...)
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  • The Role of Instinct in David Hume's Conception of Human Reason.James Hill - 2020 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (3):273-288.
    This article investigates the role of instinct in Hume's understanding of human reason. It is shown that while in the Treatise Hume makes the strong reductive assertion that reason is ‘nothing but’ an instinct, in the First Enquiry the corresponding statement has been modified in several ways, rendering the relation between instinct and reason more complex. Most importantly, Hume now explicitly recognises that alongside instinctive experimental reasoning, there is a uniquely human intellectual power of intuitive and demonstrative reason that is (...)
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  • A Compleat Chain of Reasoning: Hume's Project in a Treatise of Human Nature, Books One and Two.James A. Harris - 2009 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 109 (1pt2):129-148.
    In this paper I consider the context and significance of the first instalment of Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature , Books One and Two, on the understanding and on the passions, published in 1739 without Book Three. I argue that Books One and Two taken together should be read as addressing the question of the relation between reason and passion, and place Hume's discussion in the context of a large early modern philosophical literature on the topic. Hume's goal is (...)
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  • ‘Naturalism’ and ‘Skepticism’ in Hume'sTreatise of Human Nature.Sean Greenberg - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (4):721-733.
    Hume begins the Treatise of Human Nature by announcing the goal of developing a science of man; by the end of Book 1 of the Treatise, the science of man seems to founder in doubt. Underlying the tension between Hume's constructive ambition – his 'naturalism'– and his doubts about that ambition – his 'skepticism'– is the question of whether Hume is justified in continuing his philosophical project. In this paper, I explain how this question emerges in the final section of (...)
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  • Hume on What There Is.John H. Dreher - 2020 - Open Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):243-265.
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  • Hume’s Answer to Bayle on the Vacuum.Jonathan Cottrell - 2019 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 101 (2):205-236.
    Hume’s discussion of space in the Treatise addresses two main topics: divisibility and vacuum. It is widely recognized that his discussion of divisibility contains an answer to Bayle, whose Dictionary article “Zeno of Elea” presents arguments about divisibility as support for fideism. It is not so widely recognized that, elsewhere in the same article, Bayle presents arguments about vacuum as further support for fideism. This paper aims to show that Hume’s discussion of vacuum contains an answer to these vacuum-based fideistic (...)
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  • The Natural Foundations of Religion.Mark Collier - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (5):665-680.
    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 quite favorably with its main competitors in the cognitive (...)
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  • Critical Notice: Paul Russell’s The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion.Joe Campbell - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):127-137.
    In The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion, Paul Russell makes a strong case for the claim that “The primary aim of Hume's series of skeptical arguments, as developed and distributed throughout the Treatise, is to discredit the doctrines and dogmas of Christian philosophy and theology with a view toward redirecting our philosophical investigations to areas of ‘common life,’ with the particular aim of advancing ‘the science of man’”. Understanding Hume in this way, according to Russell, sheds light (...)
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  • New Essays on the Metaphysics of Moral Responsibility.Joseph Keim Campbell - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):193 - 201.
    This is the introduction to a volume of new essays in the metaphysics of moral responsibility by John Martin Fischer, Carl Ginet, Ishtiyaque Haji, Alfred R. Mele, Derk Pereboom, Paul Russell, and Peter van Inwagen. I provide some background for the essays, cover the main debates in the metaphysics of moral responsibility, and emphasize some of the authors' contributions to this area of philosophy.
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  • Hume's Preference for the Enquiry: A Reply to Miller.Stephen Buckle - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (6):1219-1229.
    Jon Charles Miller argues that the ‘New Humeans’ stress the primacy of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding over A Treatise of Human Nature, and that this is indefensible because it relies on omitting and distorting negative aspects surrounding Hume's statements of this preference. Miller's argument is not successful: first, the battle lines between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Humeans are not reducible to the primacy of either text; nor are his specific objections to the letters convincing. Moreover, the Enquiry is not, as (...)
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  • Time for Hume’s Unchanging Objects.Miren Boehm & Maité Cruz - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (16).
    In his discussion of our idea of time in the Treatise, Hume makes the perplexing claim that unchanging objects cannot be said to endure. While Hume is targeting the Newtonian conception of absolute time, it is not at all clear how his denial that unchanging objects are in time fits with this target. Moreover, Hume diagnoses our belief that unchanging objects endure as the product of a psychological fiction, but his account of this fiction is also riddled with puzzling claims (...)
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  • Excuses for Hume's Skepticism.Yuval Avnur - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):264-306.
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  • The Active Powers of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - 2023 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume II: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 255–292.
    This essay traces the development of the philosophical debates concerning active powers and human agency in eighteenth-century Scotland. I examine how and why Scottish philosophers such as Francis Hutcheson, George Turnbull, David Hume, and Henry Home, Lord Kames, depart from John Locke’s and other traditional conceptions of the will and how Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart reinstate Locke’s distinction between volition and desire. Moreover, I examine what role desires, passions, and motives play in the writings of these and other Scottish (...)
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  • Cudworth, Ralph.Andrea Strazzoni - 2022 - Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy.
    Ralph Cudworth was an expounder of “Cambridge Platonism.” His main tenet is that natural phenomena cannot be explained only by the principles of mechanism; therefore, the existence of a “plastic nature,” which orders the world in accordance with divine decrees, has to be postulated. The order of creation, in turn, does not depend only on divine will but also on the essences present in God’s intellect. These essences can be known through the notions innate to human soul, which recollects them (...)
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  • True Religion and Hume's Practical Atheism.Paul Russell - 2021 - In V. R. Rosaleny & P. J. Smith (eds.), Sceptical Doubt and Disbelief in Modern European Thought. Cham: Springer. pp. 191-225.
    The argument and discussion in this paper begins from the premise that Hume was an atheist who denied the religious or theist hypothesis. However, even if it is agreed that that Hume was an atheist this does not tell us where he stood on the question concerning the value of religion. Some atheists, such as Spinoza, have argued that society needs to maintain and preserve a form of “true religion”, which is required for the support of our ethical life. Others, (...)
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  • Hume's Skepticism and the Problem of Atheism.Paul Russell - 2021 - In Recasting Hume and Early Modern Philosophy: Selected Essays. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 303-339.
    David Hume was clearly a critic of religion. It is still debated, however, whether or not he was an atheist who denied the existence of God. According to some interpretations he was a theist of some kind and others claim he was an agnostic who simply suspends any belief on this issue. This essay argues that Hume’s theory of belief tells against any theistic interpretation – including the weaker, “attenuated” accounts. It then turns to the case for the view that (...)
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  • Early-Modern Irreligion and Theological Analogy: A Response to Gavin Hyman’s A Short History of Atheism.Dan Linford - 2016 - Secularism and Nonreligion 5 (1):1-8.
    Historically, many Christians have understood God’s transcendence to imply God’s properties categorically differ from any created properties. For multiple historical figures, a problem arose for religious language: how can one talk of God at all if none of our predicates apply to God? What are we to make of creeds and Biblical passages that seem to predicate creaturely properties, such as goodness and wisdom, of God? Thomas Aquinas offered a solution: God is to be spoken of only through analogy (the (...)
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  • Morality and Relations before Hume.Stewart Duncan - manuscript
    In his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals David Hume said that a group of earlier modern philosophers, beginning with Malebranche, held that morality was founded on relations. In this paper I follow up on that suggestion by investigating pre-Humean views in moral philosophy according to which morality is founded on relations. I do that by looking at the work of Nicolas Malebranche, John Locke, and Samuel Clarke. Each of them talked prominently about relations in their accounts of basic aspects (...)
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  • Hume on Religion.Paul Russell - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    David Hume's various writings concerning problems of religion are among the most important and influential contributions on this topic. In these writings Hume advances a systematic, sceptical critique of the philosophical foundations of various theological systems. Whatever interpretation one takes of Hume's philosophy as a whole, it is certainly true that one of his most basic philosophical objectives is to unmask and discredit the doctrines and dogmas of orthodox religious belief. There are, however, some significant points of disagreement about the (...)
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  • The Secular Transformation of Pride and Humility in the Moral Philosophy of David Hume.Kirstin April Carlson McPherson - unknown
    In this dissertation I examine Hume’s secular re-definition and re-evaluation of the traditional Christian understanding of pride and humility as part of his project to establish a fully secular account of ethics and to undermine what he thought to be the harmful aspects of religious morality. Christians traditionally have seen humility, understood as receptivity to God, to be crucial for individual and social flourishing, and pride as the root of individual and social disorder. By contrast, Hume, who conceives of pride (...)
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  • Causation, Cosmology and the Limits of Reason.Paul Russell - 2013 - In James Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth-Century,. New York, NY, USA: pp. 599-620.
    For well over a century the dominant narrative covering the major thinkers and themes of early modern British philosophy has been that of “British Empiricism”, within which the great triumvirate of Locke-Berkeley-Hume are taken to be the dominant figures. Although it is now common to question this schema as a way of analyzing and understanding the period in question, it continues to command considerable authority and acceptance. (One likely reason for this is that no credible or plausible alternatives structures or (...)
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  • Hume's 'Two Definitions' of Causation and the Ontology of 'Double Existence' (revised) with an Appendix 2021.Paul Russell - 2021 - In Recasting Hume and early Modern Philosophy: Selected Essays. New York, NY, USA: pp. 3-31.
    This essay provides an interpretation of Hume’s “two definitions” of causation. It argues that the two definitions of causation must be interpreted in terms of Hume’s fundamental ontological distinction between perceptions and (material) objects. Central to Hume’s position on this subject is the claim that, while there is a natural tendency to suppose that there exist (metaphysical) causal powers in objects themselves, this is a product of our failure to distinguish perceptions and objects. Properly understood, our idea of causation involves (...)
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  • Early Modern Accounts of Epicureanism.Stewart Duncan & Antonia LoLordo - forthcoming - In Jacob Klein & Nathan Powers (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    We look at some interesting and important episodes in the life of early modern Epicureanism, focusing on natural philosophy. We begin with two early moderns who had a great deal to say about ancient Epicureanism: Pierre Gassendi and Ralph Cudworth. Looking at how Gassendi and Cudworth conceived of Epicureanism gives us a sense of what the early moderns considered important in the ancient tradition. It also points us towards three main themes of early modern Epicureanism in natural philosophy, which we (...)
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  • Hume's Lucianic Thanatotherapy.George Couvalis - 2013-14 - Modern Greek Studies (Australia and New Zealand) 16 (B):327-344.
    The eighteenth century philosopher David Hume was much influenced by Greek philosophy and literature. His favourite writer was the satirist Lucian. What is David Hume’s thanatotherapy (therapy of the fear of death)? Is he an Epicurean or Pyrrhonian thanatotherapist? I argue that, while he is in part an Epicurean who is sceptical about his Epicureanism, he is primarily a Lucianic thanatotherapist. A Lucianic thanatotherapist uses self and other deprecating irony as a form of therapy. He also ruthlessly satirises religious consolations. (...)
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  • بررسی تحلیلی تأثیر و جایگاه هیوم در نظام فلسفی دی. زد. فیلیپس.سید مصطفی شهرآیینی, جلال پیکانی & فریده لازمی - 2017 - دانشگاه امام صادق علیه السلام 15 (1):115-129.
    یکی از داغ‌ترین مباحث فلسفۀ هیوم اعتقاد یا عدم اعتقاد او به وجود خداست. در این مقاله، کوشیده‌ایم، با بررسی آثار خود هیوم و استخراج آرایش در مورد وجود خدا، سازگاری درونی نظام فلسفی او در این باب را بررسی کنیم. برای این منظور، با نگاهی تحلیلی، تطابق برچسب‌های الصاق‌شده به او را با دلالت برآمده از آثارش تطبیق کرده‌ایم. این پژوهش نشان می‌دهد که اطلاق عنوان ملحد یا لاادری‌گرا بر هیوم خالی از دشواری یا اشکال نیست. همچنین یافته‌های این (...)
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  • Prophets of Secularism: Hume Before Bentham? Reply to Schofield.Lorenzo Greco - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 1 (1):75-78.
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