Integrating Hume's Accounts of Belief and Justification

Louis E. Loeb

in Stability and Justification in Hume's Treatise

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195146585
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833405 | DOI:
 Integrating Hume's Accounts of Belief and Justification

Show Summary Details


In Treatise I.iii.5–10, Hume's claim that association by the relation of cause and effect produces belief is often intertwined – though without his remarking on this fact – with the claim that belief based on causal inference is justified. To explain this, I offer the hypothesis that, in Hume's view, stability plays a double role: whether belief is justified depends upon considerations of stability, and fixity, a species of stability is also essential to belief itself. Hume identifies belief with steadiness, an infixed disposition, rather than (as tradition has it) vivacity or a lively idea. To establish that a state is a belief is thus to establish that it is stable, other things being equal. In one version of this stability‐based interpretation, the justification of a belief is a matter of its stability in the belief system of a fully reflective person; in a second version (which I favor), justification is to be assessed in terms of the degree to which the person who holds the belief is reflective.

Keywords: belief; causal inference; disposition; fixity; Hume; justification; lively idea; reflective person; stability; steadiness; vivacity

Chapter.  23072 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.