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Hume’s Epistemology in the TreatiseA Veritistic Interpretation$
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Frederick F. Schmitt

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199683116

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683116.001.0001

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Criticizing Causal Inferences and a Criterion of Justifying Causal Inference (1.3.13)

Criticizing Causal Inferences and a Criterion of Justifying Causal Inference (1.3.13)

(p.209) 7 Criticizing Causal Inferences and a Criterion of Justifying Causal Inference (1.3.13)
Hume’s Epistemology in the Treatise

Frederick F. Schmitt

Oxford University Press

In the course of his associationist explanation of defective causal inferences, Hume criticizes rash causal inferences as failing to conform to the Uniformity Principle, according to which nature is uniform between what we have observed and what we have not observed. In a rash inference, the subject infers a belief in one quality from the observation of another in the teeth of an observation that the inferred quality does not obtain. Hume’s criticism of these inferences presupposes that justifying causal inferences conform to the Uniformity Principle. This is best seen as derived from the views that prospectively reliable causal inferences conform to the Uniformity Principle and that justifying causal inferences are prospectively reliable. Thus, Hume’s criticism of rash inferences depends on the prospective reliability account of justified belief. Hume’s reliance on a criterion of justification to defend his criticism of rash inferences is discussed.

Keywords:   causal inference, criterion, general rule, justification, rash inference, reliability

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