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Lecture 18

Lecture 18 - Hume

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University of Ottawa
Daniel Kofman

Nov. 14, 2013 Hume’s Fork  Anti-rationalist: no beliefs justified if not by experience, so no justified a priori beliefs  Classic rationalist example of justified a priori belief: ‘general maxim in philosophy:’ whatever begins to exist must have a cause of existence  Two sides to Hume: naturalist (psychologist) and normative empiricist 2. Hume’s psychology, or “association of ideas:” Among all the relations that hold between things in the world there are three “natural relations” to which our minds are naturally attuned: resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and causation. These “natural relations,” along with original impressions and ideas that are faint copies of them, determine all our thoughts: “I believe it will not be very necessary to prove, that these qualities produce an association among ideas, and upon the appearance of one idea naturally introduce another. ‘Tis plain, that in the course of our thinking, and in the constant revolution of our ideas, our imagination runs easily from one idea to any other that resembles it…” 3. Necessary connection: The evidence for a causal inference consists in observations of similar pairs of events. We do not directly observe causation; we do not have a direct impression of external necessary connection. The pairs of events must be constantly conjoined, and in each pair the cause-event must be contiguous in time and space with (and prior to) the effect-event. 4. Observations of constantly conjoined similar pairs of events produce in the observer an association between the idea of the first event and the idea of the second event. Thus, a causal sequence in the mind is produced by and runs parallel to a causal sequence external to the mind. 5. Contrasting views
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