EDINBURGH University's David Hume Tower has been renamed "40 George Square" following protests over the 18th century philosopher's racist writing.

Campus bosses said the decision had been taken “because of the sensitivities around asking students to use a building named after" someone whose "comments on matters of race, though not uncommon at the time, rightly cause distress today".

Nearly 1800 people signed a petition calling for the renaming of the building, organised by Phd student Elizabeth Lund.

She started the protest in July, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting global debate on race and historical institutional racism. 

In her petition, Lund claimed the university was overlooking the philosopher’s racism “for the sake of alumni glory".

READ MORE: Was David Hume racist? Here's the Scottish philosopher's racist comment in full​

She added: “Nobody is demanding we erase David Hume from history. However, we should not be promoting a man who championed white supremacy.

"That is mutually exclusive with the goal of reducing the harm caused by racism at Edinburgh University to students of colour. 

“We can take Hume's writings and learn about them in context, but there is no reason the tallest building on campus should be named after him.”

The row stems from a notorious footnote in Hume’s 1753 essay Of National Character, where he wrote that he was “apt to suspect the negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites”.

In a statement, released late on Friday, the University said it was “important that campuses, curricula and communities reflect both the University’s contemporary and historical diversity and engage with its institutional legacy across the world". 

“For this reason the university has taken the decision to re-name – initially temporarily until a full review is completed – one of the buildings in the Central Area campus.

“From the start of the new academic year the David Hume Tower will be known as 40 George Square.”

The decision has prompted anger on social media.

Christina Sommers, a former philosophy professor, tweeted: “My God. David Hume is cancelled. Shame on U of Edinburgh.”

READ MORE: David Hume: Was this great Scottish philosopher really a racist?

Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future think tank tweeted: "I am sceptical that the university of Edinburgh has much evidence of a building being named after the famous 18th century Enlightenment philosopher David Hume causing 'distress' to contemporary students. This sounds like an imagined projection of hypothetical distress."

Dr Asanga Welikalam, Director of the university's Centre for Constitutional Law tweeted: "I do not agree with this decision. David Hume’s thought has inspired me throughout a 20 year career working to further constitutional democracy in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. As an employee of Edinburgh University I was not consulted in this."

Neil O'Brien, the Tory MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston called it a "cowardly, stupid, craven, pathetic, spineless, dumb thing to do".