O presente artigo apresenta como intuito primordial a promoção de uma análise acerca das relações entre o naturalismo filosófico de Hume e a sua oposição ao ceticismo radical, estabelecendo, nesse sentido, uma vinculação entre as teses naturalistas do autor em questão e a sua argumentação em prol do ceticismo moderado. A dissertação, num primeiro momento, abordará sobre os elementos centrais da chamada “geografia mental”, proposta por David Hume na primeira seção de seu livro Investigação sobre o entendimento Humano. Além disso, (...) será destacado o esforço do pensador na utilização do método experimental para a elaboração de uma nova ciência da natureza humana, ressaltando os princípios da natureza humana nas condições de percepção e conhecimento. O texto dissertativo realizará uma elucidação dos principais conceitos do empirismo do autor escocês, tais como: o hábito, a formação da crença, o papel da experiência nas inferências causais e a negação da razão como fundamento do conhecimento. Sob essa perspectiva, a construção dissertativa estabelecerá uma defesa da vinculação de David Hume ao “ceticismo COMPLEXITAS REVISTA DE FILOSOFIA TEMÁTICA – ISSN: 2525-4154 – QUALIS B3. Ed. 2022, V7, n 02. p. 01-16. 2 mitigado” em razão do naturalismo presente em sua obra, isto é, da compreensão segundo a qual os princípios da natureza atuam na percepção humana, orientando os indivíduos em sua postura de adoção de crenças e “verdades provisórias” como fundamentos de suas condutas. Fundamentado sob a metodologia de abordagem dedutiva, o presente trabalho foi construído com a utilização de fontes bibliográficas. (shrink)
Dans la section XII de l’ Enquête sur l’entendement humain David Hume s’interroge sur le sens et de l’absurdité du scepticisme. Il distingue différentes espèces de scepticisme dont nous examinons, pour chacune d’elles, l’intelligibilité. Celle-ci peut en effet être sémantique, pragmatique ou pratique. Un essai de jeunesse de Hume sur l’idéal chevaleresque, jusqu’ici peu exploité, nous y aide. Nous interprétons alors les deux formes de « scepticisme mitigé » en analysant leurs affections caractéristiques : la modestie intellectuelle et le goût (...) critique. Cela nous permet de répondre à une question débattue du commentaire : le scepticisme mitigé est-il modéré? Finalement, l’enjeu de la réflexion humienne sur le sens du scepticisme n’est pas de donner une réponse épistémologique au scepticisme mais d’en répondre, en prenant en compte l’expérience de son vertige existentiel. (shrink)
Hume often praises and appeals to the theoretical virtue of simplicity in his philosophy. Yet there has been relatively little scholarship done on Hume’s conception of theoretical simplicity. This paper will look to rectify this lacuna in the literature. In particular, it will look to answer three questions as they relate to Hume’s philosophy. First, what is theoretical simplicity? Second, why should we favour simpler theories over more complex ones? Third, can a theory be too simple, and if so, how?The (...) paper will argue that for Hume, theoretical simplicity concerns the causal explanation of phenomena in terms of the fewest possible causes. Second, simplicity has both epistemic and aesthetic value for Hume. While he does not follow his contemporaries in appealing to God to justify the truth-conduciveness of theoretical simplicity, some of his discussions of this virtue include elements suggestive of a meta-inductive justification of it. In addition, Hume also sees theoretical simplicity as having an intrinsic aesthetic value over and above its epistemic merit. Third, Hume recognises that there are both epistemic and aesthetic tradeoffs involved with theoretica lsimplicity, which might rule against an overly simple theory. (shrink)
Nosso objetivo central neste artigo é mostrar como as seções _of the reason of animals _sustentam a tese de uma naturalização da epistemologia de Hume. Para tal, ele será dividido em três grandes partes. Na primeira, mostraremos como Hume utilizou a analogia como fundamento para presupor uma continuidade entre as faculdades intelectivas dos animais humanos e não humanos. Na segunda, indicaremos as semelhanças que corroboram a analogia e, na última, apontaremos que as diferenças entre os humanos e demais animais são (...) apenas de grau e nunca de qualidade. (shrink)
This chapter contains section titled: Some Context The Traditional Interpretation Disarming the Evidence for the Traditional Interpretation Evidence that Hume Considers Inductive Inference Justified The Traditional Interpretation Revisited Hume's Epistemic Options Applications to Extended Objects and Belief in God Limitations on Enumerative Induction Acknowledgments References.
In the concluding section of the Book One of the Treatise, Hume confronts radical scepticism about the standards of correct reasoning. According to the naturalistic interpretations, Hume resolves this scepticism by appealing to some psychological facts. A common criticism of this interpretation is that the alleged naturalistic epistemic norm seems to be merely Hume’s report of his psychology, and it remains unclear why this seemingly mere psychological description can provide a principled reason to overcome his scepticism. In this paper, I (...) will argue that Hume’s discussions of the ”indirect passions” and social identity provide a constitutivist ground for the naturalistic epistemic standards in the “Conclusion”: being the object of the indirect passions constitutes what kind of person one is, and being the kind of person (philosopher in Hume’s case) gives non-optional reason to pursue certain kinds of reasoning. (shrink)
RESUMEN Aún no se ha explorado si el potencial comunicativo del principio humeano de simpatía se limita al intercambio de sentimientos y emociones o si permite también compartir creencias. Mostraremos que Hume considera esta última posibilidad tanto a partir de la universalidad de la naturaleza humana y del carácter inherentemente social del hombre, como de la existencia de una interconexión entre pensamientos y sentimientos. Contrariamente a la opinión de diversos autores, afirmamos además que la experiencia propia no es condición de (...) posibilidad para poner en acto el principio de simpatía, sino que podemos recibir los sentimientos y creencias de los demás aunque no contemos con experiencia similar. ABSTRACT It has not yet been explored whether the communicational power of the Humean principle of sympathy is limited to conveying feelings and emotions or it also allows sharing beliefs. I will show that Hume considers the latter possibility both by means of the universality of human nature and the inherently social character of man, and the interconnection between thoughts and feelings. Contrary to the opinion of several authors, I will also argue that our personal experience is not a necessary condition to start up the principle of sympathy, but we can receive feelings and beliefs from other people even though we do not have previous similar experience. (shrink)
Skepticism and naturalism bear important connections with one another. Do they conflict or are they different sides of the same coin? In this paper, by considering the ways in which Sextus and Hume have examined these issues, I offer a Pyrrhonian response to Penelope Maddy's attempt to reject skepticism within the form of naturalism that she calls “second philosophy” (Maddy, 2007, 2017) and to Timothy Williamson's attempt to avoid skepticism from emerging within his knowledge‐first approach (Williamson, 2000). Some lessons about (...) Pyrrhonism result. (shrink)
Hume's account of belief is understood to be inspired by allegedly incompatible motivations, one descriptive and expressing Hume's naturalism, the other normative and expressing Hume's epistemological aims. This understanding assumes a particular way in which these elements are distinct: an assumption that I dispute. I suggest that the explanatory-naturalistic aspects of Hume's account of belief are not incompatible with the normative-epistemological aspects. Rather, at least for some central cases of belief formation that Hume discusses at length, S's coming to believe (...) thatpcan be explained in a way that vindicates S's belief thatp. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviewed by:Sextus, Montaigne, Hume: Pyrrhonizers by Brian C. RibeiroJerry GreenRIBEIRO, Brian C. Sextus, Montaigne, Hume: Pyrrhonizers. Leiden: Brill, 2021. ix + 165 pp. Cloth, $145.00; eBook, $149.00As the title suggests, this short, engaging work explores a continuity between three major thinkers in the Western skeptical tradition. The label "Pyrrhonizers" is well chosen: What draws Sextus Empiricus, Montaigne, and Hume together is a set of attitudes about the limits of (...) reason and the value of constant inquiry. These thinkers are united not by commitment to a set of propositions that would group them together in some kind of static philosophical school but, rather, by a kind of pessimism about rationality's power. Ribeiro uses these figures to prompt a thought-provoking inversion of a traditional challenge to skepticism: Not only is it possible for a skeptic to live his skepticism, it is also unexpectedly easy to do so, because rationality has a surprisingly weak hold on us. This means that we can continue to be skeptics even when we cannot bring ourselves to believe or reject dogmatic claims, so long as we continue to pyrrhonize.Chapter 1 is a defense of the psychological reality of epistemic akrasia, a phenomenon by which an epistemic agent fails to form beliefs governed by the evidence she takes herself to have (analogous to the more familiar weakness of will in moral psychology). In particular, Ribeiro focuses on skeptical cases where one takes oneself to have sufficient reason to suspend judgment regarding p but nevertheless persists in believing that p. This chapter engages with contemporary literature in epistemology that [End Page 158] denies the possibility of epistemic akrasia; Ribeiro points to real cases of the phenomenon to show that it is an actual occurrence in human psychology.Chapter 2 surveys the three eponymous subjects of the book, arguing that Sextus, Montaigne, and Hume are engaged in a single, historically continuous project regarding epistemic agency and human reason-responsiveness. Whatever differences these three figures may have, each is interested in probing the boundaries of belief, looking for the borders of rationality where our beliefs persist even in the face of evidence or arguments against them.Chapter 3 looks more closely at the version of Pyrrhonian skepticism found in Sextus Empiricus. Ribeiro argues that Sextus saw global suspension of belief as an ethical ideal conducive to tranquility and hence eudaimonia. Comparable to the Stoic moral sage, this ideal may not be fully realizable in actual life, but one can nevertheless make progress toward this ideal. Crucially, this progress is compatible with intractable beliefs about which suspension of judgment is difficult or fleeting: Even if one cannot globally suspend judgment about all matters at once, one can still become increasingly more tranquil as one develops the ability to suspend judgment more successfully over time.Chapter 4 transitions to Montaigne's Essays. Ribeiro devotes the bulk of the chapter to showing that Montaigne was explicitly influenced by ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism (via both Sextus and Cicero). The most important point, however, is that Montaigne exemplifies the Pyrrhonian project in his constant revisions to his Essays throughout his life, modeling the zetetic approach of perpetual investigation. Montaigne's chief contribution to this project is to redirect it away from the dogmatic disputes over unclear matters that we see among the ancient skeptics, and toward continual autobiographical self-reflection.Chapter 5 pauses the historical focus of the previous chapters, to return to the topic of human rationality. This chapter uses a Humean observation of the power of custom or habit compared to reason to argue that human rational self-control is surprisingly weak. Similar to the worry about epistemic akrasia discussed in chapter 1, here Ribeiro uses the plausibility of certain skeptical arguments to suggest that we may lack the ability to form beliefs even when we take the arguments supporting those beliefs to be persuasive.Chapters 6 and 7 return to a historical focus, this time concentrating on Hume. Drawing on the work of Karánn Durland, chapter 6 argues that there is an irresolvable tension across Hume's works: In some places Hume endorses naturalism, in others skepticism. Ribeiro takes this to be further evidence for... (shrink)
Brian Ribeiro’s slim volume presents a comparative study of three of the most important figures in the history of skepticism: Sextus Empiricus, Michel de Montaigne, and David Hume. Ribeiro’s rich text, like most of his work, is written in a colloquial, easy style that nearly masks the considerable erudition informing his thought. This text, in fact, gathers, synthesizes, and expands on the substantial work with which Ribeiro has been engaged for decades. Drawing from that precedent research, Ribeiro’s focus here is (...) the possible scope of skepticism, the implications of that scope for rationality, and the value skeptical philosophy promises. (Ribeiro makes clear that his objective is not to establish his reading as... (shrink)
Abstract:Hume described himself as an Academic skeptic and aligned himself with the skepticism of Socrates and Cicero. I argue, though, that Hume transformed the meaning of Academic skepticism by associating it with an experimental rather than dialectical method. In this essay, I distinguish between those aspects of Cicero’s Academic skepticism that Hume adopted and those he discarded in his presentation of mitigated skepticism in the first Enquiry. I then consider the implications of Hume’s transformation of Academic skepticism for Hume’s polite (...) eloquence in the Essays, particularly the essays on happiness, which are often described as possessing “Ciceronian” and “dialectical” elements. Hume’s transformation of Academic skepticism is essential to helping readers understand not only Hume’s alleged neo-Hellenism, but also the aims of his philosophical project. (shrink)
Was David Hume radically sceptical about our attempts to understand the world or was he merely approaching philosophical problems from a scientific perspective? Most philosophers today believe that Hume's outlook was more scientific than radically sceptical and that his scepticism was more limited than previously supposed. If these philosophers are correct, then Hume's approach to philosophy mirrors the approach of many contemporary philosophers. This similarity between Hume and many aspects of contemporary philosophy suggests that we should try to understand Hume (...) not as an historical relic but as a partner in a continuing philosophical dialogue. When we look closely at Hume's thoughts about human understanding, we find that Hume's scepticism emerges very insistently in the context of Hume's scientific approach. This book tries to come to terms with Hume's scepticism in a way that sheds light on contemporary philosophy and its relationship to science. (shrink)
Cet article examine les défis épistémologiques actuels de l’économie à travers le prisme de l’épistémologie des Lumières écossaises. Smith et Hume s’étaient concentrés sur la manière dont les connaissances (provisoires et incertaines) étaient formulées, en examinant comment des circonstances différentes engendrent et soutiennent différentes théories et approches. Sur cette base, nous explorons le discours actuel sur la manière dont les économistes doivent aborder les défis épistémologiques des situations de crise et leurs causes.
A plea for natural philosophy --On the question of realism --Hume and Reid --Moore's hands --Wittgenstein on hinges --A note on truth and reference --The philosophy of logic --A Second Philosophy of logic --Psychology and the a priori sciences --Do numbers exist? --Enhanced if-thenism.
This book aims to discuss probability and David Hume's inductive scepticism. For the sceptical view which he took of inductive inference, Hume only ever gave one argument. That argument is the sole subject-matter of this book. The book is divided into three parts. Part one presents some remarks on probability. Part two identifies Hume's argument for inductive scepticism. Finally, the third part evaluates Hume's argument for inductive scepticism.
Introduction. The article is devoted to the epistemology of communicative knowledge. It is argued that the central problem in the analysis of such knowledge is the question of the status of testimony. The author discusses reductionism and non-reductionism as two traditional approaches to the problem of trust to testimony. The aim of the article is to describe the arguments of both approaches and to carry out their critique. Methodology and sources. The author uses the method of conceptual analysis to address (...) the task at hand. The primary sources of the paper include the works of the classics of the theory of knowledge – D. Hume and T. Reid. The secondary sources include works of modern authors, belonging to the Anglo-American philosophical tradition. Results and discussion. Reductionism argues that although testimonial beliefs can be accepted on the basis of the reliability of the informant, the testimony itself does not provide justification. Ultimately, reductionism reduces testimony to another source of justification, such as perception or memory. The article explains that reductionism's weakness is to account for normal social interactions when the reliability of the speaker is unknown. Non-reductionism argues that testimony does not provide justification by reduction to other sources. Testimony itself is a valid form of social proof. The informant does not need additional positive reasons to accept the speaker's claims as valid. Testimony is justified by default unless it is proven false or unreliable. However, the weakness of non-reductionism is the relativistic implication in cases of cognitive asymmetry between the informant and the informant. Conclusion. The article concludes that reductionism and non-reductionism are equally unsatisfactory theories. The author believes that the formation of communicative knowledge does not depend on trust in the informant's testimony. It is proposed to consider the issue of trust in the informant himself as an epistemic agent. It is suggested that such an analysis should start from an virtue epistemology. (shrink)
When we see the way that the parts of the Appendix concerning belief hang together, we can understand how and why Hume moved from saying that belief is a vivid idea to saying that belief is a sui generis feeling. In the Appendix to the Treatise, Hume retracts his claim that perceptions with the same object only vary with respect to vivacity. In material in the appendix that he tells his reader to insert in Book 1, he explains his reasons: (...) the vivacity connected to belief is different in kind from that from the vivacity connected to poetry. Poetry can be more vivid, in its way, than belief. Since Hume’s main arguments for the thesis that beliefs are vivid ideas in the main body of the Treatise depend on the assumption that ideas with the same object only vary in vivacity, he owes us new arguments from his claim. He provides various arguments for a slightly revised thesis that belief is a particular sort of vivid idea at the beginning of the Appendix. (shrink)
ABSTRACT David Hume’s attacks on causality and induction along with his celebrated is-ought dichotomy dealt a blow to the human mind from which Western civilization has never fully recovered. Centuries after his death, Hume remains immensely popular among academic philosophers, which only bolsters the myth that his skeptical arguments are unanswerable. In fact, his arguments are seriously flawed. The first part of this paper clarifies the basics of Hume’s philosophy, focusing on the epistemology in the Treatise and Enquiry. The second (...) part exposes the mistaken premises and assumptions in Hume’s arguments, demonstrating how Objectivism redeems the validity of human knowledge. (shrink)
This work, first published in 1985, offers a general interpretation of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Most Hume scholarship has either neglected or downplayed an important aspect of Hume's position - his scepticism. This book puts that right, examining in close detail the sceptical arguments in Hume's philosophy.
A natural reading of Hume’s distinction between impressions and ideas is that impressions are forceful perceptions whereas ideas are faint. A problem emerges, however, when Hume countenances the possibility of faint impressions and forceful ideas. In this paper, I attempt a resolution to the problem. I argue that Hume characterizes impressions and ideas intensionally and extensionally, and sometimes uses the term in only one of the two senses. I argue that Hume intensionally defines impressions and ideas as forceful perceptions and (...) weak perceptions, respectively, but takes these to be extensionally equivalent to original and copied perceptions, respectively. Hume recognizes that his two characterizations—the intensional and extensional—don’t perfectly match up, and that there are exceptions to the purported equivalences (the exceptions being disease, sleep, madness, and enthusiasm). Nonetheless, I argue that Hume’s willing to proceed with his definitions. (shrink)
Hume's epistemological legacy is often perceived as a predominantly negative sceptical one. His infamous problem of induction continues to perplex philosophers to this day, and many of his sceptical worries maintain their interest in contemporary eyes (e.g. with regard to reason, the senses, substance, causation). Yet Hume's positive epistemological contributions also hold significance for philosophy in this day and age. In this paper, I aim to situate Hume's epistemology in a more contemporary context, particularly with regard to the theme of (...) reliabilism that runs throughout this epistemology. This will take the shape of examining correspondences and contrasts between Hume's epistemologies in the Treatise and Enquiry and reliabilism, as well as an examination of how Hume's framework might handle some major challenges for reliabilist epistemologies. In particular, I argue that that while Hume is tempted to an epistemology that is intimately tied to truth in the Treatise, he backs away when confronted with the excesses of scepticism in the conclusion of Book 1, and winds up with an epistemology most similar to the contemporary epistemological frameworks of dogmatism and phenomenal conservatism. Yet, largely because of his reliance on the passions (a respect in which he diverges from these two contemporary frameworks), the epistemology of the Treatise remains crucially dissociated from truth. Meanwhile, in the first Enquiry, he proceeds to develop a two-tiered epistemological framework that first accords all our justification with default authority, and then founds all-things-considered epistemic justification on our evidence for the reliability of our faculties. The first tier most resembles the contemporary epistemological framework of conservatism, while the second tier most closely resembles approved-list reliabilism. In this, a clear reliabilist thread runs through the epistemology of the Enquiry. I will also argue that although Hume did not appear to fully appreciate one of the most significant challenges for reliabilism-that is, the generality problem-his philosophical framework nevertheless contains the beginnings of a response to it. (shrink)
Peter S. Fosl offers a radical interpretation of Hume as a thoroughgoing sceptic on epistemological, metaphysical and doxastic grounds. He first contextualises Hume's thought in the sceptical tradition and goes on to interpret the conceptual apparatus of his work - including the Treatise, Enquiries, Essays, History, Dialogues and letters.
Recent work on Mary Shepherd has largely focused on her metaphysics, especially as a response to Berkeley and Hume. However, relatively little attention has thus far been paid to the epistemological aspects of Shepherd’s program. What little attention Shepherd’s epistemology has received has tended to cast her as providing an unsatisfactory response to the skeptical challenge issued by Hume. For example, Walter Ott and Jeremy Fantl have each suggested that Shepherd cannot avoid Hume’s inductive skepticism even if she is granted (...) her metaphysics. In this paper, I examine Shepherd’s epistemology and argue that her response to Hume is more successful than the current literature suggests. In particular, I argue that, if Shepherd is granted her metaphysics, she can answer Hume’s demand for a rational justification of ordinary inductive inferences via a deductively justified uniformity principle and an appeal to parsimony. (shrink)
En este capítulo se ofrece una posible crítica de Hume a Descartes en torno a la imaginación y el entendimiento. Primero se analiza el concepto de imaginación en Descartes y se sostiene que el concepto es equívoco, ya que en un sentido carece de valor epistémico pero en otro sentido sí lo tiene. A continuación se explora el concepto de imaginación como una facultad subordinada al entendimiento y se observan sus repercusiones en Spinoza y Leibniz. Finalmente se exponen las críticas (...) de Kant y Hume con respecto a los límites del entendimiento y se ofrece una posible crítica de Hume a Descartes en torno a la imaginación y el entendimiento. (shrink)
A companion volume to On Understanding Understanding, this second edition incorporates corrections to the previous text and includes new readings. The works collected in this volume are mainly from the British Empiricists. The breadth of the selection is not so diverse that the pieces cannot be readily understood by a newcomer to Epistemology, they have a logical progression of development (from Locke to Berkeley to Hume), and all of the philosophers whose work is represented have had great influence on contemporary (...) Anglo-American philosophy. In the Introduction, Potter sets the selections in their historical context and urges the readers to form their own viewpoint in terms of the period's contribution to the advancement of culture, politics, and society. He gives a concise summary of the Enlightenment period, demonstrating how and why Rationalism and Empiricism came about, and challenges the reader not to simply note the points of disparity between the two schools, but to notice the similarities of their common assumptions - both substantive and methodological. Readings in Epistemology, Second Edition is an excellent classroom tool. A biographical note on the philosopher, and list of suggested books for further study, heads each of the readings. Study Questions which stimulate discussion, are at the end of each piece. (shrink)
What is knowledge? Why is it valuable? How much of it do we have, and what ways of thinking are good ways to use to get more of it? These are just a few questions that are asked in epistemology, roughly, the philosophical theory of knowledge. This is Epistemology is a comprehensive introduction to the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and scope of human knowledge. Exploring both classic debates and contemporary issues in epistemology, this rigorous yet accessible textbook provides (...) readers with the foundation necessary to start doing epistemology. Organized around 11 key subtopics, and assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, this volume exposes readers to diverse, often contentious perspectives—guiding readers through crucial debates including Hume’s problem of induction, Descartes’ engagement with radical skepticism, rationalist and empiricist evaluations of a priori justification, and many more. The authors avoid complex technical terms and jargon in favor of an easy-to-follow, informal writing style with engaging chapters designed to stimulate student interest and encourage class discussion. Throughout the text, a wealth of up-to-date references and links to online resources are provided to enable further investigation of an array of epistemological topics. A balanced and authoritative addition to the acclaimed This is Philosophy series, This is Epistemology is a perfect primary textbook for philosophy undergraduates, and a valuable resource for general readers with interest in this important branch of philosophy. (shrink)
Much has been written about Kemp Smith’s (1941) famous problem regarding the tension between Hume’s naturalism and his scepticism. However, most commentators have focused their attention on the Treatise; those who address Enquiry often take it to express essentially the same message as the Treatise. When Hume’s scepticism in the Enquiry has been investigated in its own right, commentators have tended to focus on Hume’s inductive scepticism in Sections 4 and 5. All in all, it seems that Section 12 has (...) been unduly neglected. This paper seeks to address Kemp Smith’s problem from the standpoint of Hume’s treatment of scepticism in EHU 12, and finds an interesting internalist account that makes sense both of Hume’s discussion in EHU 12 and his aims in the Enquiry as a whole, as well as one that is of philosophical interest, having intriguing parallels to contemporary epistemological accounts. (shrink)
A contemporary debate concerning the epistemology of testimony is portrayed by its protagonists as having its origins in the eighteenth century and the respective views of David Hume and Thomas Reid. Hume is characterized as a reductionist and Reid as an anti-reductionist. This terminology has been widely adopted and the reductive approach has become synonymous with Hume. In Sect. 1 I spell out the reductionist interpretation of Hume in which the justification possessed by testimonially-acquired beliefs is reducible to the epistemic (...) properties of perception, memory and inductive inference. This account of testimony is taken to be found in the section ‘On Miracles’ of Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. In Sect. 2 I introduce the distinction between global and local reductionism, and Coady’s interpretation of Hume as a global reductionist. He takes Hume’s position to be untenable. The rest of the paper explores alternative interpretations of Hume. Section 3 develops a local reductionist interpretation of Hume on testimony. It is argued, though, that such an approach is unstable and, in response, Sect. 4 turns to anti-reductionism in its contemporary forms and in Reid’s teleological account. In Sect. 5 I argue for an anti-reductionist account of Hume, one drawn from his discussion of the testimony of history in the Treatise of Human Nature, thus moving away from the usually exclusive focus upon the discussion of miracles in the first Enquiry, upon which the reductionist interpretation is based. Given the standard meaning of ‘Humeanism’ in the current debate, my interpretation amounts to the claim that Hume is not a Humean with respect to testimony. (shrink)
My aim in this chapter is twofold. I attempt to provide an example of how (1) careful analysis in the history of philosophy can (2) elucidate contemporary debates about philosophical issues. My analysis of Hume’s account of the contagion of belief unfolds in three parts. In section one, I offer a summary of Hume’s account of the nature of beliefs concerning matters of fact. In section two, I elucidate his account of the “contagion of opinion” itself, explaining how beliefs are (...) contagious, why the contagious nature of beliefs is so powerful, and how people can resist the contagion. In section three, I elucidate the significance of Hume’s account of contagious beliefs for his account of doxastic virtues and explain the conditions under which it is virtuous to resist contagious beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of THN 1.4.7, which sees his sceptical problem and solution in THN 1.4.7 as taking a broadly deontological structure. Briefly, I read the ‘Dangerous Dilemma’ (THN 22.214.171.124-7) as embodying a false dichotomy between two deontological extremes concerning reflection, that is, thinking carefully about our mental states and faculties. The two horns of the Dangerous Dilemma are as follows: either embracing an absolute duty to constantly and incessantly reflect (leading to excessive scepticism); or (...) maintaining that it is not the case that we have any duty to reflect to any degree (leading to credulity). Hume thus seeks to straddle these two horns and find a deontological middle path. The resolution to this dilemma turns on Hume’s realising that we have a duty to reflect only up to a point. Beyond this threshold, there is a level of reflection that is not required of us, but which is nevertheless good; in other words, such reflection is supererogatory. However, this seems to render excessive scepticism supererogatory. This unintuitive outcome can be avoided by appealing to a suitable account of value beyond the deontological threshold that is founded on usefulness and agreeableness. In the end, Hume manages to tread a path between scepticism and credulity, while nevertheless rejecting superstition and endorsing science and philosophy. (shrink)