Hume's Argument

Colin Howson

in Hume's Problem

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250371
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597749 | DOI:
 Hume's Argument

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Hume's argument for inductive scepticism is presented, and some ‘quick’ rejoinders to it are considered. Two of the most popular are (1) that it begs the question that only deductive arguments are valid, and omits consideration of probabilistic arguments, and (2) that inductive reasoning is partly constitutive of what we mean by valid inference, and so needs no independent justification. Both these rejoinders are rejected (1) because an examination of Hume's text clearly shows that he was talking about any sort of putatively sound argumentation, including probabilistic arguments; and (2) because it misses the point, which is to show why we can reliably expect the course of nature to continue in the way predicted on the basis of past evidence.

Keywords: Hume's problem; induction; inductive inference; logic; probability; scepticism

Chapter.  6349 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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