Hume's Skeptical Argument

Hume's Skeptical Argument - Hume's Skeptical Argument Hume...

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Hume’s Skeptical Argument Hume presents us with an argument that is intended to show that we have no good evidence (reason to believe) for our beliefs in unobserved matters of fact. An unobserved matter of fact is a matter of fact that is neither an object of present sensory experience nor an object of memory. For example, my current belief that Paul is in France, that the bread in front of me will satisfy my hunger, the fire that I see will burn my hand, the filing cabinet is full of files, the approaching bus will squash me, etc. See pages 736 for Hume’s discussion of “matters of fact” vs “relations of ideas.” Hume’s basic question is: What is our evidence for unobserved matters of fact? This question is important because, we’ve been assuming, we are rational in holding a belief only if we have good evidence for that belief and, we’ve been assuming (along with Plato and Descartes), a person knows something only if she has good reason for (is rational in holding) a true belief. If we don’t have good evidence for a belief in an unobserved matter of fact, then we are not rational in holding that belief. Hume’s Argument 1. If we are rational in believing some unobserved matter of fact, then we must be rational in making inferences of the form “All observed Fs are Gs, therefore, the next observed F will be a G.” 2. If we are rational in making inferences of the above form, then we must be rational in believing that “the future tends to be like the past.” 3. If we are rational in believing that “the future tends to be like the past,” then our reason for that
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PHI 006 taught by Professor Sharpe during the Spring '08 term at Westmont.

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Hume's Skeptical Argument - Hume's Skeptical Argument Hume...

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