Hume views the passions as having both intentionality and qualitative character, which, in light of his Separability Principle, seemingly contradicts their simplicity. I reject the dominant solution to this puzzle of claiming that intentionality is an extrinsic property of the passions, arguing that a number of Hume’s claims regarding the intentionality of the passions (pride and humility in particular) provide reasons for thinking an intrinsic account of the intentionality of the passions to be required. Instead, I propose to resolve this (...) tension by appealing to Hume’s treatment of the ‘distinctions of reason’, as explained by Garrett (1997). (shrink)
Hume's Epistemological Evolution argues that Hume's Enquiry represents a significant departure from the Treatise in respect of its epistemological framework. The Treatise's treatment of skepticism is an unsatisfactory one, as Hume seems to realize, and he therefore forms a new epistemological framework in the Enquiry. Qu's central argument is that Hume's epistemology evolves between these two works.
This article investigates Hume's account of mental transparency. In this article, I will endorse Qualitative Transparency – that is, the thesis that we cannot fail to apprehend the qualitative characters of our current perceptions, and these apprehensions cannot fail to be veridical – on the basis that, unlike its competitors, it is both weak enough to accommodate the introspective mistakes that Hume recognises, and yet strong enough to make sense of his positive employments of mental transparency. Moreover, Qualitative Transparency is (...) also philosophically satisfying in providing good philosophical reason for why the mental states that are incorrigible should in fact be so. (shrink)
Disputants in the debate regarding whether Hume's argument on induction is descriptive or normative have by and large ignored Hume’s positive argument (that custom is what determines inferences to the unobserved), largely confining themselves to intricate debates within the negative argument (that inferences to the unobserved are not founded on reason). I believe that this is a mistake, for I think Hume’s positive argument to have significant implications for the interpretation of his negative argument. In this paper, I will argue (...) that Hume’s positive and negative arguments should be read as addressing the same issues, whether normative or causal. I will then focus on the Enquiry version of Hume’s positive argument, arguing that it carries a significant normative conclusion: there, Hume argues that custom plays a normative role in justifying our inductive inferences. Given that Hume’s positive argument should be read as addressing the same issues as his negative argument, we should correspondingly read Hume’s negative argument in the Enquiry as having a normative conclusion. (shrink)
The inoffensive title of Section 1.4.7 of Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, ‘Conclusion of this Book’, belies the convoluted treatment of scepticism contained within. It is notoriously difficult to decipher Hume’s considered response to scepticism in this section, or whether he even has one. In recent years, however, one line of interpretation has gained popularity in the literature. The ‘usefulness and agreeableness reading’ (henceforth U&A) interprets Hume as arguing in THN 1.4.7 that our beliefs and/or epistemic policies are justified via (...) their usefulness and agreeableness to the self and others; proponents include Ardal (in Livingston & King (eds.) Hume: a re-evaluation, 1976), Kail (in: Frasca-Spada & Kail (eds.) Impressions of Hume, 2005), McCormick (Hume Stud 31:1, 2005), Owen (Hume’s reason, 1999), and Ridge (Hume Stud 29:2, 2003), while Schafer (Philosophers, forthcoming) also defends an interpretation along these lines. In this paper, I will argue that although U&A has textual merit, it struggles to maintain a substantive distinction between epistemic and moral justification—a distinction that Hume insists on. I then attempt to carve out the logical space for there being a distinctly epistemic notion of justification founded on usefulness and agreeableness. However, I find that such an account is problematic for two reasons: first, it cannot take advantage of the textual support for U&A; secondly, it is incompatible with other features of the text. (shrink)
Commentators such as Kemp Smith (1941), Mendelbaum (1974), and Bricke (1980) have taken the distinctions of reason to pose either a counterexample to or a limitation of scope on the Separability Principle. This has been convincingly addressed by various accounts such as Garrett (1997), Hoffman (2011), and Baxter (2011). However, I argue in this paper that there are two notions of ‘distinction of reason’, one between particular instantiations (token distinctions of reason) and one between general ideas (type distinctions of reason). (...) Discussion of the distinctions of reason in the secondary literature has without fail focused on token distinctions of reason, but I will argue that type distinctions of reason prove problematic for Hume’s Separability Principle. I find a way around this problem that is consonant with Hume’s account of general ideas, but which can hardly be said to be an account which he explicitly or even implicitly endorsed. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine three mutually inconsistent claims that are commonly attributed to Hume: all beliefs are involuntary; some beliefs are subject to normative appraisal; and that ‘Ought implies Can’. I examine the textual support for such ascription, and the options for dealing with the puzzle posed by their inconsistency. In what follows I will put forward some evidence that Hume maintains each of the three positions outlined above. I then examine what I call the ‘prior voluntary action’ solution. (...) I argue that this position in any form fails to account for synchronic rationality. I then raise more specific objections depending on how we disambiguate the position, which can be read as either granting beliefs derivative voluntariness, or as denying their normative significance; the former version is inconsistent with Hume’s treatment of natural abilities, while the latter falls to a regress given Hume’s thesis regarding the inability of actions and passions to be subject to epistemic normativity. I then propose to reject instead for two reasons: first, the weakness of textual support for such an ascription; secondly, Hume’s explicit recognition of the irrelevance of involuntariness to normative evaluation in the moral case. (shrink)
Discussion on whether Hume's treatment of induction is descriptive or normative has usually centred on Hume's negative argument, somewhat neglecting the positive argument. In this paper, I will buck this trend, focusing on the positive argument. First, I argue that Hume's positive and negative arguments should be read as addressing the same issues . I then argue that Hume's positive argument in the Enquiry is normative in nature; drawing on his discussion of scepticism in Section 12 of the Enquiry, I (...) explain a framework by which he provides what I call consequent justification for our inductive practices in his positive argument. Based on this, I argue that his negative argument in the Enquiry should similarly be read as normative in nature. (shrink)
Much has been written about Kemp Smith's 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 the 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. Moreover, it is one that is of substantive philosophical interest, having intriguing parallels to contemporary epistemological accounts. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue that a number of Hume’s claims generate a putative inconsistency with regard to complex ideas and independent existence. I first provide a prima facie argument for the existence of this inconsistency. Then, I examine a number of attempts to rescue Hume from this problem, and argue that each of them fails, before proposing my own solution.
Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move that is often criticised as ad hoc. In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume, or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction. I argue that conceptual accounts face a dilemma: either they render the conativist thesis trivial, or they violate Hume’s thesis that ‘a priori, (...) any thing may produce any thing’. I defend an empirical construal of Hume’s conativist thesis. I provide two theoretical frameworks within which Hume’s appeal to the calm passions may be justified: first, by the framework of theoretical virtues, and secondly, by lights of his own “rules by which to judge of causes and effects”. (shrink)
Consistency is commonly taken to be an interpretive virtue in scholarship, but the rationale behind this assumption is unclear. This paper explores the question of why we should take consistency to be an interpretive virtue; it finds that while considerations of accuracy might render the issue underdetermined, we nevertheless have reason to take consistency to be an interpretive virtue on the basis of considerations of philosophical worth.
There seems a potential tension between Hume's naturalistic project and his normative ambitions. Hume adopts what I call a methodological naturalism: that is, the methodology of providing explanations for various phenomena based on natural properties and causes. This methodology takes the form of introducing ‘the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects’, as stated in the subtitle of the Treatise; this ‘experimental method’ seems a paradigmatically descriptive one, and it remains unclear how Hume derives genuinely normative prescriptions from this methodology. (...) In resolving this problem, I will argue that Hume's naturalistic methodology – that is, his ‘experimental philosophy’, or what has come to be known as his experimental method – consists of the systematization of phenomena pertaining to human nature. In applying his experimental method to normative subjects, Hume systematizes our normative judgements, deriving general principles of normative justification; he then reflexivel... (shrink)
This article surveys the state of the literature on Hume’s epistemology, focusing on treatments of what has come to be known as the ‘Kemp Smith problem’, that is, the problem of reconciling Hume’s scepticism with his naturalism. It first surveys the literature on this issue with regard to the Treatise, moving on to briefly compare the Treatise and the Enquiry in virtue of their epistemological frameworks, before finally examining the literature with regard to the first Enquiry.
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)
Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move is that is often criticised as ad hoc (e.g. Stroud 1977 and Cohon 2008). In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume (Stroud 1977), or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction (Bricke 1996). -/- I argue that conceptual accounts face a dilemma: either they render (...) the conativist thesis trivial, or they violate Hume's thesis that 'a priori, any thing may produce any thing'. I defend an empirical construal of Hume’s conativist thesis. I provide two theoretical frameworks within which Hume’s appeal to the calm passions may be justified: first, by the framework of theoretical virtues, and secondly, by lights of his own ‘rules by which to judge of causes and effects’ (THN 1.3.15). (shrink)
This paper will argue that Hume's notion of the self in Book 2 of the Treatise seems subject to two constraints. First, it should be a succession of perceptions. Second, it should be durable in virtue of the roles that it plays with regard to pride and humility, as well as to normativity. However, I argue that these two constraints are in tension, since our perceptions are too transient to play these roles. I argue that this notion of self should (...) be characterized as a bundle of dispositions to our perceptions, such that these dispositions are durable and counterfactual-supporting. I argue that Hume confused his ‘philosophical’ notion of dispositions, as nothing above and beyond their effects, with the thicker notion of dispositions to which the passions respond—which explains his mistaken commitment to the durability constraint. (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)
In this paper, I will make the case that an associative account of predication in Hume seems to allow for impossible predicative conceptions—that is, the conceiving of impossible states of affairs involving subjects instantiating properties or qualities—which violate his Conceivability Principle. The natural response is to argue that such conceptions are not clear and distinct, but substantive worries are raised about a number of attempted solutions along these lines. This poses a predicament for Hume scholars: either we must modify or (...) abandon the Conceivability Principle, or reject an associative account of predication, or concede that Hume faces a difficulty he cannot solve. (shrink)
There seems a potential tension between Hume’s naturalistic project and his normative ambitions. Hume adopts what I call a methodological naturalism: that is, the methodology of providing explanations for various phenomena based on natural properties and causes. This methodology takes the form of introducing ‘the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects’, as stated in the subtitle of the Treatise; this ‘experimental method’ seems a paradigmatically descriptive one, and it remains unclear how Hume derives genuinely normative prescriptions from this methodology. (...) -/- In resolving this problem, I will argue that Hume’s naturalistic methodology – that is, his ‘experimental philosophy’ (THN Intro 7), or what has come to be known as his experimental method – consists of the systematisation of phenomena pertaining to human nature. In applying his experimental method to normative subjects, Hume systematises our normative judgments, deriving general principles of normative justification; he then reflexively applies these principles to the pre-philosophical judgments from which they derive, dismissing and/or correcting those that do not accord with his systematised account. I will argue that Hume’s experimental method, far from being wholly descriptive, is in fact thoroughly infused with normativity; furthermore, the very application of this methodology to our normative judgments reveals Hume’s normative ambitions. (shrink)
This paper will make the case that we can find in Kant’s Second Analogy a substantive response to Hume’s argument on induction. This response is substantive insofar as it does not merely consist in independently arguing for the opposite conclusion, but rather, it identifies and exploits a gap in this argument. More specifically, Hume misses the possibility of justifying the uniformity of nature as a synthetic a priori proposition, which Kant looks to establish in the Second Analogy. Note that the (...) focus on the paper is on Kant’s identification of the form that a solution to Hume’s inductive scepticism must take. In making this point, my paper will look to establish two lemmas: Kant identifies synthetic a priori judgments as a means of justifying metaphysical knowledge in a way that circumvents Hume’s dichotomy between matters of fact and relations of ideas; the Second Analogy looks to establish the uniformity of nature of as a synthetic a priori proposition. However, my paper generally abstains from the question of the tenability of Kant’s argument in the Second Analogy. Doing justice to this latter discussion would require more space than I am able to offer here. My paper therefore has a conditional bearing on the philosophical issue of inductive scepticism. If one believes Kant’s Second Analogy to be philosophically cogent, then Kant offers a successful justification of induction against Hume’s scepticism. If not, then at least one can still admire Kant’s identification of the gap in Hume’s argument, which, to a degree, can be exploited independently of Kant’s system. (shrink)
The Title Principle is seen by a number of commentators as crucial to Hume’s resolution of skeptical doubts in THN 1.4.7, thus providing an answer to Kemp Smith’s (1941) famous worry regarding the tension between Hume’s skepticism and his naturalism. However, I will argue that in the Enquiry, Hume rejects both the Title Principle and the role of the passions in his epistemology. Those who think that neither the Title Principle nor the passions play a significant role in THN 1.4.7 (...) will likely take this as grist for their mills. But for those who endorse such interpretations, my argument presents an interpretive burden to provide some explanation as to why Hume might have become dissatisfied with this epistemic framework, abandoning it in his later work. Having raised this interpretive burden, my paper also seeks to bear it by providing such an explanation. (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 188.8.131.52-7) 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)