Unphilosophical Probability and Judgments Arising from Sympathy

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:
 Unphilosophical Probability and Judgments Arising from Sympathy

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Attributing the stability‐based theory to Hume explains his equation of degree of belief with degree of evidence in his treatment of philosophical probability. In his discussion of the fourth kind of unphilosophical probability, Hume uncovers contradictions that arise from accidental or rash generalizations; his response, that stability can be restored by appeal to higher‐order generalizations or general rules, facilitates his analysis of causation. Hume's first three kinds of unphilosophical probability involve variation in degrees of confidence that parallels variation in moral judgments due to the operation of sympathy. Such variation and fluctuation in sentiment and degree of confidence feel like contradictions in that they give rise to uneasiness or discomfort that we seek to relieve. Hume thus identifies psychological pressures that motivate corrections to variable judgments about probability and virtue and vice, resulting in more stable judgments that have normative standing.

Keywords: accidental; causation; corrections; evidence; general rule; Hume; moral judgment; probability; generalization; sympathy

Chapter.  21114 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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