Hume Studies 40 (1):95-136 (2014)

Jason Fisette
University of Nevada, Reno
Hume is widely read as committed to a kind of anti-realism about secondary qualities, on which secondary qualities are less real than primary qualities. I argue that Hume is not an anti-realist about secondary qualities as such, and I explain why Hume’s remarks on the primary-secondary distinction are better read as abstaining from the realist/anti-realist debate as it was understood by modern philosophers such as Locke. By contextualizing Hume’s discussion of the primary-secondary distinction in Treatise 1.4.4 as a response to a broadly Lockean understanding of the distinction, my analysis retrieves Hume’s critique of the resemblance and inseparability theses that structure Locke’s version of the distinction and establishes that Hume has epistemic reasons to reject Locke’s metaphysical conclusions about the distinction.
Keywords Hume  Locke  secondary qualities  anti-realism  realism  Corpuscularianism  primary qualities
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Reprint years 2014, 2016
ISBN(s) 0319-7336
DOI 10.1353/hms.2014.0011
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