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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines key details of Hume’s account of sympathy, which play an important role not only in his ethics and his social philosophy, but also in his cognitive psychology and, consequently, in his epistemology as well as his philosophy of religion. The presentation of Hume’s account is threefold. The first section of the paper elucidates the nature of sympathy, drawing on some of the more recent ways in which Hume’s commentators have attempted to resolve the interpretive puzzles Hume’s works present. The second section explicates some of the functions sympathy has in Hume’s philosophy, including not only three that have been particularly prominent in the secondary literature, but also two others that have received considerably less attention. The final section summarizes Hume’s account of the nature and functions of sympathy and briefly suggests some of the ways in which these aspects of Hume’s moral psychology seem to be supported by contemporary psychological research.

Keywords: Sympathy, humanity, ethics, aesthetics, moral, psychology, contagion, motivation, judgment

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