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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 488490
Dan has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham and has previously taught at Birmingham, Keele and Warwick Universities. His current research interests include David Hume, the epistemology of testimony and trust, and conceptions of the divine mind. He is the founder and organizer of the Oxford Hume Forum and the annual Brookes International Hume Workshop. This year he is also the leader of a research group on intellectual humility and in 2016 he will lead a research cluster on special divine action. He is currently supervising two research students working in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science.
This paper explores one aspect of God’s omniscience, that is, his knowledge of human minds. In §1 I spell out a traditional notion of divine knowledge, and in §2 I argue that our understanding of the thoughts of others is a distinct kind of knowledge from that involved in knowledge of the physical world; it involves empathizing with thinkers. In §3 I show how this is relevant to the question of how, and whether, God understands the thoughts of man. There is, we shall see, some tension between the alleged direct nature of God’s intuition-based knowledge and the empathetic nature of understanding others.
For Hume virtues are character traits that are useful and agreeable to ourselves and to others. Such traits are wide-ranging, from moral virtues such as benevolence to intellectual virtues such as courage of mind and penetration. This paper focuses on Hume’s account of the latter. I argue that Hume is a virtue epistemologist, principally interested in the role that intellectual character traits play in social interactions rather than in the justifiedness of particular beliefs. I shall argue that this interpretation is consonant with his mitigated skepticism, and that it calls for a reappraisal of the marshalling of Hume and Reid into the contemporary debate between reductionists and non-reductionists with respect to the epistemology of testimony.