Hume Skepticism

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Hume asked, "what reason do we have in thinking the future will resemble the past?" It is reasonable to think that it will because there is no contradiction in supposing the future won't resemble the past. But it is also true that is possible for the world to change dramatically and our previous experience would be completely useless in judging future experience. We want to say that past experiences have been a good predictor. We are compelled to do so and it is almost as if we can't help ourselves. But we are merely stating that in the past, it has been a good predictor. Hume says we are begging the question. We are still in the past if we say that past pasts were reliable predictors of past futures.

So we see that the past really only tells us about the past. Our real problem is does anything about the past tell us anything about the future? Hume believes that in nature, it does. He says that nature itself is uniform and constant in causing a particular effect and "no instance has ever yet been found of any failure or irregularity in the operation." But when it does fail, it is some secret cause in the particular parts. Since we are accustomed to transferring the past into the future, we feel compelled to make these secrets understandable in order to reconcile nature and mind.

Hume told us we have no reason to expect the past to resemble he future because of these secret causes. We are preprogrammed psychologically to use induction to function in the world. But we are really not much different than a blind man who has learned to successfully work his way around his home. It is not likely for us to stop using induction because it works in general. But we really have no real rational reason for relying on induction, even though it is psychologically natural. The blind man set out in the world is no longer able to function. He has no a priori connection in mind from two objects.

Hume asks us then to think about instead of...
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