Hume and a Worry about Simplicity

History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (2):139-157 (2009)
Authors
Stewart Duncan
University of Florida
Abstract
I discuss Hume's views about whether simplicity and generality are positive features of explanations. In criticizing Hobbes and others who base their systems of morality on self interest, Hume diagnoses their errors as resulting from a "love of simplicity". These worries about whether simplicity is a positive feature of explanations emerge in Hume's thinking over time. But Hume does not completely reject the idea that it's good to seek simple explanations. What Hume thinks we need is good judgment about when we are going too far in our search for simple explanations. These worries about simplicity are not unique to Hume. We can see versions of them in the work of Hutcheson, Smith, and Reid.
Keywords Hume  simplicity  explanation
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DOI 10.2307/27745153
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