Hume, Teleology, and the 'Science of Man'

In William Gibson, Dan O'Brien & Marius Turda (eds.), Teleology and Modernity. New York-London: Routledge. pp. 147-64 (2019)
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There are various forms of teleological thinking central to debates in the early modern and modern periods, debates in which David Hume (1711–1776) is a key figure. In the first section, we shall introduce three levels at which teleological considerations have been incorporated into philosophical accounts of man and nature, and sketch Hume’s criticisms of these approaches. In the second section, we turn to Hume’s non-teleological ‘science of man’. In the third section, we show how Hume has an account of human flourishing that is not dependent on teleology. In the fourth section, we shall speculate as to the relation between Hume’s account of human nature and contemporary evolutionary accounts of morality and reasoning.

Author Profiles

Dan O'brien
Oxford Brookes University
Lorenzo Greco
Università degli Studi dell'Aquila


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