How to be a pragmatist: C. I. Lewis and Humean skepticism

Murray G. Murphey’s masterful treatment of C. I. Lewis’s philosophy leaves two things amply clear: first, that Lewis struggled with skeptical arguments from Hume throughout his career; and second, that Lewis never adequately resolved the problems raised by those arguments. In this paper I will consider Lewis’s approach to Hume’s skepticism in Mind and the World Order (MWO) and in An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation (AKV), and I will argue that Lewis’s reply to Hume in these works did not change as dramatically as Murphey claims. Nevertheless, I agree with Murphey that there are two quite different lines of reply discernable in Lewis, and that neither adequately answers Hume. In the final part of the paper I argue that Lewis’s pragmatism gives us resources for an adequate reply to Hume’s skeptical arguments, although it is not the reply that Lewis himself gives.
Keywords Hume
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DOI 10.2979/TRA.2006.42.1.24
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