Difficulties—Contrived and Suppressed

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:
 Difficulties—Contrived and Suppressed

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Hume's claim in ”Of the modern philosophy” that causal inference is implicated in an ineliminable, ”manifest contradiction” draws on a highly artificial version of an argument from perceptual relativity. Hume's statement of a ”very dangerous dilemma” draws on a mistaken argument in ”Of scepticism with regard to reason” for the conclusion that all probability, including evidence based on causal inference, reduces to zero. Contrary to Hume's own assessment, his stability‐based theory of justification has little to fear from these episodes. At the same time, Hume's theory of justification requires an account of the conditions under which contradictory beliefs either continue to oscillate or lead to a conflicted resolution, rather than canceling out. Hume's treatments of the probability of causes, the direct passions, education, and contradictions involving demonstration and other belief‐forming mechanisms show that this is a matter Hume does not satisfactorily address.

Keywords: causal inference; dangerous dilemma; demonstration; education; Hume; manifest contradiction; modern philosophy; passions; perceptual relativity; causal probability; skepticism; reason

Chapter.  20477 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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