Ambiguity and "Atheism" in Hume's Dialogues

In Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion’: A Critical Guide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This paper considers the question of “atheism” as it arises in Hume’s _Dialogues_. It argues that the concept of “atheism” involves several signficiant ambiguities that are indicative of philosophical and interpretive disagreements of a more substantial nature. It defends the view that Philo’s general sceptical orientation accurately represents Hume’s own “irreligious” and “atheistic” commitments, both in the _Dialogues_ and in his other (“earlier”) writings. While Hume was plainly a “speculative atheist”, his “practical atheism” was targeted more narrowly against “superstition” - as opposed to deism or religion of a more “philosophical” kind.

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