David Owen’s new book invites us to take a fresh look at three major modern philosophers: Descartes, Locke, and Hume. Although Leibniz invented the familiar conception of proof as a formal relationship among sentences, reasoning for these three philosophers was a very different animal: they thought of it as a matter, not of form, but of content. They regarded proof—demonstration or demonstrative reasoning—as a process of stringing together chains of relations between ideas. That process appeals to the content of the (...) ideas involved, and is thus a radically non-formal conception of reasoning, one that has as little to do with the syllogisms of Aristotle and the Scholastics as it does with the post-Fregean notion of deductive validity dominant today. (shrink)
Although Hume has no developed semantic theory, in the heyday of analytic philosophy he was criticized for his “meaning empiricism,” which supposedly committed him to a private world of ideas, led him to champion a genetic account of meaning instead of an analytic one, and confused “impressions” with “perceptions of an objective realm.” But another look at Hume’s “meaning empiricism” reveals that his criterion for cognitive content, the cornerstone both of his resolutely anti-metaphysical stance and his naturalistic “science of human (...) nature,” provides the basis for a successful response to his critics. Central to his program for reforming philosophy, Hume’s use of the criterion has two distinct aspects: a critical or negative aspect, which assesses the content of the central notions of metaphysical theories to demonstrate their unintelligibility; and a constructive or positive aspect, which accurately determines the cognitive content of terms and ideas. (shrink)
Fred Dretske's "Knowledge and the Flow of Information" is an extended attempt to develop a philosophically useful theory of information. Dretske adapts central ideas from Shannon and Weaver's mathematical theory of communication, and applies them to some traditional problems in epistemology. In doing so, he succeeds in building for philosophers a much-needed bridge to important work in cognitive science. The pay-off for epistemologists is that Dretske promises a way out of a long-standing impasse -- the Gettier problem. He offers an (...) alternative model of knowledge as information-based belief, which purports to avoid the problems justificatory accounts face. This essay looks closely at Dretske's theory. I argue that while the information-theoretic framework is attractive, it does not provide an adequate account of knowledge. And there seems to be no way of tightening the theory without introducing some version of a theory of justification -- the very notion Dretske's theory was designed to avoid. (shrink)
This bibliography covers the Hume literature for 2003. Once again, I encourage readers of Hume Studies to supply additions, corrections, or bibliographical information still missing from any previous listings. I am grateful to all who have contributed additions or corrections to previous bibliographies, and again thank Frédéric Brahami for his help with this year’s French Hume literature.
The dissimilarities between human artefacts and the universe are striking. We experience only a tiny part of the universe, and much of that is unknown to us. Aren’t our inferences hopelessly anthropomorphic; why not compare the universe to a plant or animal instead?
Pickering and Chater (P&C) maintain that folk psychology and cognitive science should neither compete nor cooperate. Each is an independent enterprise, with a distinct subject matter and characteristic modes of explanation. P&C''s case depends upon their characterizations of cognitive science and folk psychology. We question the basis for their characterizations, challenge both the coherence and the individual adequacy of their contrasts between the two, and show that they waver in their views about the scope of each. We conclude that P&C (...) do not so muchdiscover ascreate the gap they find between folk psychology and cognitive science. It is an artifact of their implausible and unmotivated attempt to demarcate the two areas, and of the excessively narrow accounts they give of each. (shrink)
This bibliography covers the Hume literature for 2001. I am grateful to all those who contributed additions or corrections to previous bibliographies, and I again encourage readers of Hume Studies to supply additions, corrections, or bibliographical information still missing from any of these listings.
This bibliography covers the Hume literature for 2000. I am grateful to all those who contributed additions or corrections to previous bibliographies, and I again encourage readers of Hume Studies to supply additions, corrections, or bibliographical information still missing from any of these listings.