Curious Virtues in Hume’s EpistemologySkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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This paper explores Hume's relationship to skepticism — and, in particular, his relationship to the skeptical arguments outlined in Part 1.4 of the Treatise. Following recent work on these issues, I give a broadly non-skeptical interpretation of these passages. But this leaves us with the question of why Hume endorses such a response. I consider and criticize a popular answer to this question: the Practical Reading, according to which Hume's positive evaluation of some forms of reasoning at the close of Book 1 is based on purely practical grounds. Although I agree with one version of this interpretation that Hume's evaluation of his own reasoning in 1.4.7 has deep structural similarities with Humean moral evaluation, I argue that the former mode of evaluation is best thought of as concerned — not with narrowly practical considerations — but instead with a form of epistemic virtue. I then go on to outline the theory of epistemic virtue that I take to be implicit in Hume's account — one which focuses on the role of the "intellectual" passions of curiosity and ambition in epistemic evaluation.