Non-Humean Holism, Un-Humean Holism

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In this article I argue that textual evidence from David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature does not support J. Baird Callicott's professedly Humean yet holistic environmental ethic, which understands the community (e.g., the biotic community) as a 'metaorganismic' entity 'over and above' its individual members. Based on Hume's reductionist account of the mind and his assimilation of the metaphysical nature of the mind to that of the community, I also argue that a Humean account of the community should be likewise reductionist. My conclusion is that Callicott's anti-reductionist holism is at least foreign to, and at worst incompatible with, Hume's philosophy.

Keywords: Calicott; Hume; community; holism; individual; sympathy

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2001

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2013) of 1.739.
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