According to David Hume, statements concerning future matters of fact always require empirical support. It is impossible to have knowledge of such facts without grounded impressions, or experience. Hume declares that justification for claims of future matters of fact are inferred from cause and effect relationships rather than from tangible experience. Similarly, cause and effect relationships are recognized through experience. Human’s naturally reason inductively, or in other words, use experience to establish beliefs about things which have yet to be observed. Hume argues that through such assumptions, it is impossible and rather foolish to derive any reliable conclusions about the world based on inductive reasoning.
Hume argues future matters of fact are considered knowledge on the basis of cause and effect relationships. He declares that in order to satisfy our knowledge of future matters of fact, it is necessary for us to foremost question how we arrived at the knowledge of cause and effect. Cause and effect relationships are plainly unattainable; we can only make inferences concerning future matters of fact. Hume suggests, “No object ever discovers, by the qualities which appear to the senses, either the causes which produce it or the effects which will arise from it; nor can our reason, unassisted by experience, ever draw any inference concerning real existence and future matters of fact” (Hume, 241). Humans have habit of visualizing one event following another, and declaring the first event causes the second. Hume rejects such an idea, arguing that we cannot declare any inferences taken from past experiences as knowledge of future matters of fact. As Hume addresses the principle of induction, he claims that there is always room for error when making and inductive inference.
Rejecting the principle of induction, the idea that the present will resemble the past, Hume states that “The mind can never possibly find
Cited: Hume, D. (2008). An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In J. Feinberg & R. Shafer-Landau, Reason and Understanding (pp. 237-263). Boston: Wadsworth.