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Spectres of False DivinityHume's Moral Atheism$
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Thomas Holden

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199579945

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579945.001.0001

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The Arguments from Determinism

The Arguments from Determinism

(p.181) 7 The Arguments from Determinism
Spectres of False Divinity

Thomas Holden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter documents and examines Hume's account of the implications of his deterministic ‘doctrine of necessity’ for the moral status of any first cause or designer. There are two main conclusions. First, Hume embraces the argument from determinism against duties to God. According to this argument, if there is some such original cause or designer, then it has in effect foreordained every human action, and so cannot reasonably be aggrieved at or offended by those actions. For Hume, the deity cannot then enter into the sort of moralized relations that presuppose the possibility of legitimate grievance or moral offense, and we cannot owe duties to God. Second, it is also argued that, contrary to a popular line of interpretation, Hume's determinism does not commit him to the conclusion that the first cause is the author of our sins in any sense that need compromise the deity's moral character.

Keywords:   deity, determinism, doctrine of necessity, duties, first cause, God, Hume, moral offense, necessity, sin

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