Chapter

Induction, Analogy, and a Future State

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110333.003.0011
Induction, Analogy, and a Future State

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Although there is considerable disagreement among commentators about the extent of Hume's skeptical commitments on the subject of induction, most are agreed that what he has to say has little or nothing of a specific nature to do with problems of religion. This chapter argues, contrary to this view, that Hume's account of the problem of induction, as originally presented in the Treatise, is significantly motivated by irreligious objectives. More specifically, Hume's discussion of induction—concerning our beliefs about the future based on past experience—is deeply and directly concerned with the claim (as defended by Butler) that the doctrine of a future state is both credible in itself and of great practical importance for us. Whatever else Hume aimed to do in this context, discrediting this religious doctrine was important to him.

Keywords: analogy; association of ideas; belief; Joseph Butler; future state; induction; naturalism; Blaise Pascal; probability; skepticism

Chapter.  9929 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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