Hume's Treatment of Denial in the Treatise

Philosophers' Imprint 14 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


David Hume fancied himself the Newton of the mind, aiming to reinvent the study of human mental life in the same way that Newton had revolutionized physics. And it was his view that the novel account of belief he proposed in his Treatise of Human Nature was one of that work’s central philosophical contributions. From the earliest responses to the Treatise forward, however, there was deep pessimism about the prospects for his account. It is easy to understand the source of this pessimism: The constraints he employed in theorizing stem from his Newtonian ambitions. Constraints such as his copy principle and his decision to rely only on variations in “force and vivacity” for differentiating types of mental states severely limit his available explanatory resources. However, it is one thing to regard an account as untenable, and quite another to understand where it fails. In this paper, I focus on one long-standing objection to Hume’s account — the objection that Hume cannot offer an account of negative belief or denial — as presented by Hume’s contemporary Thomas Reid, as well as more recently by Barry Stroud, and defend Hume from this objection. I argue that Hume both should and does endorse an account of negative belief based in relations of contrariety between contents, rather than between mental activities, and survey the different options available to Hume for spelling out an account of contrary contents



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Does Hume hold a dispositional account of belief?Jennifer Smalligan Marušić - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):155-183.
Politeness, Paris and the Treatise.Mikko Tolonen - 2008 - Hume Studies 34 (1):21-42.
Hume on morality.James Baillie - 2000 - New York: Routledge.
Hume’s Impression/Idea Distinction.David Landy - 2006 - Hume Studies 32 (1):119-139.
Hume's account of memory.Jeffrey K. McDonough - 2002 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 10 (1):71 – 87.
Substance and mental identity in Hume's treatise.Nathan Brett - 1972 - Philosophical Quarterly 22 (87):110-125.
Filling the Gaps in Hume’s Vacuums.Miren Boehm - 2012 - Hume Studies 38 (1):79-99.
Hume's Labyrinth: A Search for the Self.Alan Schwerin - 2012 - Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Sympathy and Benevolence in Hume's Moral Psychology.Rico Vitz - 2004 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (3):261-275.


Added to PP

247 (#72,554)

6 months
69 (#55,780)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lewis Powell
State University of New York, Buffalo

Citations of this work

Hume's Incredible Demonstrations.Graham Clay - 2022 - Hume Studies 47 (1):55-77.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references