Normativity and probable reasoning: Hume on Induction

Chon Tejedor

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In this paper I examine the debate between epistemic and descriptivist interpreters of Hume’s discussion of induction and probable reasoning. Epistemic interpreters view Hume as primarily concerned with questions relating to the epistemic authority and justification of our inductive principles and beliefs. Descriptivist interpreters, in contrast, suggest that Hume aims to explain how our inductive beliefs are produced, not to ascertain whether they are epistemically justified. I focus on three of these readings in particular: two of them epistemic, the third descriptivist. The first epistemic reading, presented by Peter Millican, portrays Hume as embracing scepticism about induction; the second epistemic reading, put forward by Louis Loeb, presents him as a non-sceptical externalist about justification; the descriptivist reading, defended by David Owen, presents Hume as engaged primarily in the scientific task of describing the mechanisms by which we come to form our beliefs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Hume
  • Induction
  • Epistemology
  • Science
  • Externalism
  • Reasoning
  • Inference


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