The Tendency of Hume's Skepticism

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI:
The Tendency of Hume's Skepticism

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This essay provides a survey of the central role of various radically skeptical arguments in David Hume's philosophy. The discussion relies upon a distinction between theoretical skepticism and prescriptive skepticism. A theoretical skepticism calls into question the grounds or the warrant for some important class of beliefs, e.g., our inductive beliefs about the future and our beliefs about the external world. A prescriptive skepticism recommends the suspension of belief for some class of beliefs. This essay is an attempt to show that Hume was an unmitigated theoretical skeptic over a wide range of areas, but for the most part he was a moderate or mitigated prescriptive skeptic.

Keywords: external world; Hume; inductive skepticism; prescriptive skepticism; skepticism; theoretical skepticism

Chapter.  7017 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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