Tag Archives: David Hume

C. D. Broad

[D]id Bacon provide any logical justification for the principles and methods which he elicited and which scientists assume and use? He did not, and he never saw that it was necessary to do so. There is a skeleton in the cupboard of Inductive Logic, which Bacon never suspected and Hume first exposed to view. Kant conducted the most elaborate funeral in history, and called Heaven and Earth and the Noumena under the Earth to witness that the skeleton was finally disposed of. But, when the dust of the funeral procession had subsided and the last strains of the Transcendental Organ had died away, the coffin was found to be empty and the skeleton in its old place. Mill discretely closed the door of the cupboard, and with infinite tact turned the conversation into mote cheerful channels. Mr Johnson and Mr Keynes may fairly be said to have reduced the skeleton to the dimensions of a mere skull. But that obstinate caput mortuum still awaits the undertaker who will give it Christian burial. May we venture to hope that when Bacon’s next centenary is celebrated the great work which he set going will be completed; and that Inductive Reasoning, which has long been the glory of Science, will have ceased to be the scandal of Philosophy?

C. D. Broad, The Philosophy of Francis Bacon, an address delivered at Cambridge on the occasion of the Bacon Tercentenary, 5 October 1926, Cambridge, 1926, pp. 66–67

John Maynard Keynes

The [Essay] can claim a place amongst those which have had great influence on the progress of thought. It is profoundly in the English tradition of humane science—in that tradition of Scotch and English thought, in which there has been, I think, an extraordinary continuity of feeling, if I may so express it, from the eighteenth century to the present time—the tradition which is suggested by the names of Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Paley, Bentham, Darwin, and Mill, a tradition marked by a love of truth and a most noble lucidity, by a prosaic sanity free from sentiment or metaphysic, and by an immense disinterestedness and public spirit.

John Maynard Keynes, ‘Robert Malthus: The First of the Cambridge Economists’, in Essays in Biography, London, 1933, p. 120

William Alston

For Locke and Hume, and British empiricists generally, the way to understand any psychological concept is either to find it among the immediate data of introspection or to show how it is to be analyzed into such data. This approach ultimately stems from the Cartesian insistence that one knows one’s own states of consciousness better than anything else, in particular, better than physical objects and events, since it is possible to doubt the existence of all the latter but not all of the former.

William Alston, ‘Pleasure’, in Donald Borchert (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., 2006, Detroit, p. 622

Thomas Pogge

When Hume’s reflections confronted him with the baselessness of all human reasoning and belief, he found it most fortunate that “nature herself” ensures that he would not long linger in such dark skepticism: “I dine, I play a game of back-gammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I wou’d return to these speculations, they appear so cold, so strain’d, and ridiculous, that I cannot find it in my heart to enter into them any farther.”

When Parfit’s reflections led him to a reductionist view of personal identity, he found it unfortunate that one cannot long maintain this view of the world, which removes the glass wall between oneself and others and makes one care less about one’s own death. Focusing on his arguments, one can only briefly stun one’s natural concern for one’s own future by reconceiving oneself in accordance with the reductionist view.

Our world is arranged to keep us far away from massive and severe poverty and surrounds us with affluent, civilized people for whom the poor abroad are a remote good cause alongside the spotted owl. In such a world, the thought that we are involved in a monumental crime against these people, that we must fight to stop their dying and suffering, will appear so cold, so strained, and ridiculous, that we cannot find it in our heart to reflect on it any farther. That we are naturally myopic and conformist enough to be easily reconciled to the hunger abroad may be fortunate for us, who can “recognize ourselves,” can lead worthwhile and fulfilling lives without much thought about the origins of our affluence. But it is quite unfortunate for the global poor, whose best hope may be our moral reflection.

Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms, Cambridge, 2002, p. 26

Enrique Marí

Como no he encontrado en el ejercicio de mi profesión razonamientos lógicos ni menos aún verificaciones empíricas del Derecho, me hallo en tren—bajo sugerencia de Hume—de arrojar sin conmiseración mi diploma a la hoguera, por no contener otra cosa que sofística e ilusión.

Enrique Marí, ‘¿Computadoras jurídicas o jibarismo social?, Nueva Ciencia, mayo, 1973