Spectres of False Divinity presents a historical and critical interpretation of Hume's rejection of the existence of a deity with moral attributes. In Hume's view, no first cause or designer responsible for the ordered universe could possibly have moral attributes; nor could the existence (or non-existence) of such a being have any real implications for human practice or conduct. Hume's case for this 'moral atheism' is a central plank of both his
naturalistic agenda in metaphysics and his secularizing program in moral theory. It complements his wider critique of traditional theism, and threatens to rule out any religion that would make claims on moral practice.
Thomas Holden situates Hume's commitment to moral atheism in its historical and philosophical context, offers a systematic interpretation of his case for divine amorality, and shows how Hume can endorse moral atheism while maintaining his skeptical attitude toward traditional forms of cosmological and theological speculation.
Thomas Holden is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Architecture of Matter: Galileo to Kant. (OUP, 2004).
Preface ; Abbreviations ; 1. Hume's Moral Atheism ; 2. Mitigated Skepticism and Hume's Liminal Natural Theology ; 3. The Argument from Sentimentalism 1: Hume's Critique of Religious Passions ; 4. The Argument from Sentimentalism 2: Religious Passions and the Deity's Moral Status ; 5. The Argument from Motivation ; 6. The Arguments from Evil ; 7. The Arguments from Determinism ; Conclusion ; Bibliography ; Index