Filling the Gaps in Hume’s Vacuums

Hume Studies 38 (1):79-99 (2012)
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Abstract

The paper addresses two difficulties that arise in Treatise 1.2.5. First, Hume appears to be inconsistent when he denies that we have an idea of a vacuum or empty space yet allows for the idea of an “invisible and intangible distance.” My solution to this difficulty is to develop the overlooked possibility that Hume does not take the invisible and intangible distance to be a distance at all. Second, although Hume denies that we have an idea of a vacuum, some texts in Treatise 1.2.5 are taken by interpreters to suggest that Hume nonetheless believes that there are vacuums in nature. I discuss the relevant texts and defend the view that Hume does not in fact countenance belief in vacuums. I conclude by outlining an interpretation of Hume’s intention in the Treatise that allows us to understand his discussion of ideas as having implications for the sciences.

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Miren Boehm
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Citations of this work

Newtonian and Non-Newtonian Elements in Hume.Matias Slavov - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (3):275-296.
A Puzzle about Fictions in the Treatise.Jonathan Cottrell - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1):47-73.
Empiricism and Relationism Intertwined: Hume and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.Matias Slavov - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (2):247-263.
Hume's Perceptual Relationism.Dan Kervick - 2016 - Hume Studies 42 (1 & 2):61-87.

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References found in this work

Hume and Causal Inference.Michael J. Costa - 1986 - Hume Studies 12 (2):141-159.

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