Character Development in Shaftesbury’s and Hume’s Approaches to Self

In Dan O'Brien (ed.), Hume on the Self and Personal Identity. Palgrave (2022)
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This essay examines the relation between philosophical questions concerning personal identity and character development in Shaftesbury’s and Hume’s philosophy. Shaftesbury combines a metaphysical account of personal identity with a normative approach to character development. By contrasting Shaftesbury’s and Hume’s views on these issues, I examine whether character development presupposes specific metaphysical views about personal identity, and in particular whether it presupposes the continued existence of a substance, as Shaftesbury assumes. I show that Hume’s philosophy offers at least two alternatives. Moreover, I consider whether and how Hume’s philosophy leaves scope for character development and how he departs from Shaftesbury’s normative project of self-formation.

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Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin


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