The Constraints of Hume's Naturalism

Barry Stroud

in Philosophers Past and Present

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608591
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729621 | DOI:
The Constraints of Hume's Naturalism

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‘Naturalism’ can perhaps be understood as the project of explaining all aspects of human life, thought, and action on the basis of what can be found to be so in observable nature. There seems nothing essentially problematic in such an enterprise. But in Hume's hands it reveals that human beings immediately perceive at best only something that falls far short of the world of enduring objects, causal connections, thinking and experiencing persons, and good and bad states of affairs that all human beings believe in. Given those ‘sceptical’ conclusions, explaining how human beings come to have any such beliefs seems to require explaining how what is so in the austere independent world combines with what is true of human beings to produce the richer conception of a world that they all accept. This chapter describes how acceptance of those ‘sceptical’ conclusions restricts what a Humean ‘naturalist’ can appeal to in explaining those ways of thinking in a way that leaves the would-be naturalism forever dissatisfying.

Keywords: Hume; naturalism; human beings; sceptical conclusions

Chapter.  8062 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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