David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 104 (2):15 - 52 (1995)
In the the passage just quoted from the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, David Hume developed a thought-experiment that contravened his better-known views about "chance" expressed in his Treatise and first Enquiry. For among other consequences of the 'eternal-recurrence' hypothesis Philo proposes in this passage, it may turn out that what the vulgar call cause is nothing but a secret and concealed chance. (In this sentence, I have simply reversed "cause" and "chance" in a well-known passage from Hume's Treatise, p. 130). In the first eight sections of this essay, I develop one topological and model-theoretic analogue of Hume's thought-experiment, in which 'most' ('A-generic') models M of a 'scientific' theory U are both 'eternally recurrent' and topologically random (in a sense which will be made precise), even though they are 'inductively' defined, via a step-by-step ('empirical'?) procedure that Hume might have been inclined to endorse. The last aspect of this model-theoretic thought-experiment also serves to distinguish it from simpler measure-theoretic prototypes that are known to follow from Kolmogorov's Zero-One Law (cf. the Introduction, 5.2, 6.1 and 6.7 below). In the last three sections, I will argue more informally (1) that the metamathematical thought-experiments just mentioned do have a genuine metaphysical relevance, and that this relevance is predominantly skeptical in its implications; (2) that such 'nonstandard' instances of semantic underdetermination and 'pathology' seem to be the metatheoretic rule rather than the exception; and therefore, (3) that metamathematical and metatheoretic 'malign-genius' arguments are quite coherent, contrary (e.g.) to assertions such as that of Putnam (1980), pp. 7-8. In the essay's conclusion, finally, I assimilate (2) and (3) to the familiar datum that 'simplicity', rather than 'pathology', has more often than not turned out to be an anomalous 'special case' in the historical development of scientific and mathematical ontology
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Thomas Jech, Set Theory. Journal of Symbolic Logic.
David Hume (1739/2000). A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford University Press.
David Hume (2007). Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophical Review. Blackwell Pub. Ltd. 338-339.
David Hume (1975). Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. OUP Oxford.
Joseph R. Shoenfield (1967). Mathematical Logic. Reading, Mass.,Addison-Wesley Pub. Co..
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Bruce H. Weber (2011). Design and its Discontents. Synthese 178 (2):271 - 289.
Michael A. Bishop (1999). Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments. Philosophy of Science 66 (4):534-541.
Jürgen Dümont (1999). Putnam's Model-Theoretic Argument(S). A Detailed Reconstruction. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 30 (2):341-364.
Fred Wilson (1984). Is Hume a Sceptic with Regard to Reason? Philosophy Research Archives 10:275-319.
Tim Button (2011). The Metamathematics of Putnam's Model-Theoretic Arguments. Erkenntnis 74 (3):321-349.
Scott Black (2010). Thinking in Time in Hume's Essays. Hume Studies 36 (1):3-23.
Fred Wilson (1988). Was Hume a Subjectivist? Philosophy Research Archives 14:247-282.
William Boos (1994). The World, the Flesh and the Argument From Design. Synthese 101 (1):15 - 52.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads18 ( #212,198 of 1,911,296 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #252,428 of 1,911,296 )
How can I increase my downloads?