College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood's Gifford lecture 'David Hume and Civil Society' will focus on the positive lessons for today's society we might draw from Hume's philosophy, despite his reputation for negative conclusions on morality, religion and knowledge

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood

Event details

Lecture title: David Hume and Civil Society

Date: Tuesday 25 October 2011, 5.30pm

Venue: Playfair Library, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh


Stewart Sutherland taught philosophy in Bangor, Wales, Stirling, and King's College London, where he held the Chair of the History and Philosophy of Religion.

He was subsequently Principal of King’s College, London, Vice Chancellor of the University of London, and Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

He is a fellow of the British Academy and Past-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Lecture abstract

David Hume's thinking was radical and thorough. This was his strength, but also a source of ammunition to his enemies. He has been interpreted as being scathingly negative in all of his conclusions - whether about morality, religion or basic epistemology.

The lecture will argue that Hume has much that is positive to teach us about all of these topics.

However, the main focus will be upon the nature and foundations of Civil Society, including both ethical and social insights, and their relevance to contemporary talk of 'broken' or 'fractured' society.

Lecture video