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Impressions of Hume$
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Marina Frasca-Spada and P. J. E. Kail

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256525.001.0001

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Waiting for Hume

Waiting for Hume

(p.59) Waiting for Hume
Impressions of Hume

Peter Lipton

Oxford University Press

Why, given the ancient pedigree of scepticism, did we have to wait until Hume for the problem of induction? This chapter begins by considering whether the problem in fact antedates Hume: there is earlier discussion of non-demonstrative reasoning, e.g., in Sextus and in Bacon, and there is, in various forms, sceptical concern about induction, but Hume's negative proof that there is no possible justification of induction, either demonstrative or non-demonstrative, is something new. After canvassing various unsatisfactory answers, the chapter offers its own, showing that Hume's philosophical orientation provided him with both the motive and the opportunity to generate his great sceptical argument: his naturalism provided the motive to construct a ‘method of doubt’ that would wean us from the picture of ourselves as creatures of reason and replace it with the picture of creatures governed by natural instincts, and his radical empiricism and atheism provided him with a way of revealing the pervasiveness of inductive inference, from which his argument naturally follows.

Keywords:   Hume, induction, scepticism, empiricism, inductive inference, naturalism

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