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Death and Character

Death and Character

Further Reflections on Hume

Annette C. Baier

ISBN 9780674030909

Publication date: 11/30/2008

Reviewing Annette Baier’s 1995 work Moral Prejudices in the London Review of Books, Richard Rorty predicted that her work would be read hundreds of years hence; Baier’s subsequent work has borne out such expectations, and this new book further extends her reach. Here she goes beyond her earlier work on David Hume to reflect on a topic that links his philosophy to questions of immediate relevance—in particular, questions about what character is and how it shapes our lives.
Ranging widely in Hume’s works, Baier considers his views on character, desirable character traits, his treatment of historical characters, and his own character as shown not just by his cheerful death—and what he chose to read shortly before it—but also by changes in his writings, especially his repudiation of the celebrated A Treatise on Human Nature. She offers new insight into the Treatise and its relation to the works in which Hume “cast anew” the material in its three books. Her reading radically revises the received interpretation of Hume’s epistemology and, in particular, philosophy of mind.


  • These essays are idiosyncratic and highly personal, yet at the same time genuinely infused with the spirit of Humean philosophy. One of the things that the essays collected here make clear is the value of a grasp of all of Hume's writings, including the History of England, for a properly nuanced understanding of Hume's moral philosophy. Another is that Baier's deep admiration for Hume's writings does not preclude a keen and illuminating sense of the problems Hume set for himself but failed to solve.

    —James A. Harris, author of Of Liberty and Necessity: The Free Will Debate in Eighteenth-Century British Philosophy


  • Annette C. Baier was Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, Emerita, at the University of Pittsburgh. She also taught at the philosophy department of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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