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John Gardner (1965-2019)

“Uncontroversial ideas need not less but more critical scrutiny, since they generally get such an easy ride.” Those are the words of John Gardner, Professor of Law and Philosophy and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University, who died last week at age 54. Professor Gardner worked on a wide range of topics in philosophy of law, moral philosophy, and political philosophy. Prior to becoming a fellow of All Souls, he held Oxford’s Chair of Jurisprudence, and before that he was Reader in Legal Philosophy at King’s College London, and held other positions at Oxford. His books include From Personal Life to Private Law (2018), Law as a Leap of Faith: And Other Essays on Law in General (2012), Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law (2007), and a forthcoming book which he completed prior to his death from cancer called Torts and Other Wrongs. Annalise Acorn (Alberta) has written an obituary for Professor Gardner, posted at Oxford University’s site, describing in detail his life and work. His work is characterized by reverence for rationality and an abiding sense of the value of the human capacity to give reasons and take responsibility. The concept of duty played a central role in his philosophy. Likewise, he held a deep personal conviction that, not just the substance, but the joy of life lay in the fulfillment of duty… He was uncommonly generous in his contributions to college life both at Univ and All Souls. He was [More]

Hume on Art, Emotion, and Superstition: A Critical Study of the Four Dissertations

2019.07.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Amyas Merivale, Hume on Art, Emotion, and Superstition: A Critical Study of the Four Dissertations, Routledge, 2019, 240pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138351462. Reviewed by Mark Collier, University of Minnesota, Morris Amyas Merivale offers the first book-length treatment of Hume's Four Dissertations (1757), which is comprised of the Natural History of Religion, Dissertation on the Passions, Of Tragedy, and Of the Standard of Taste. The Four Dissertations has been largely overshadowed, if not totally eclipsed, by Hume's earlier philosophical writings. Merivale's goal is to change these attitudes about the relative significance of the Four Dissertations. He defends two main theses. The first is that the texts included in the Four Dissertations should be viewed as a "unified set", deliberately organized around a central theme of the passions, rather than as an arbitrary collection of texts (17). The second, more controversial, claim is that the Four Dissertations develops and improves on Hume's philosophy of emotion... Read [More]