Humean Varieties of Scepticism and Naturalism
Peter Millican (University of Oxford)

March 1, 2024, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Department of Philosophy and Monash Bioethics Centre, Monash University

Menzies E561
Monash Clayton Campus
Melbourne 3800

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Abstract: David Hume’s philosophy is standardly interpreted as both sceptical and naturalistic, and as such has been inspirational to contemporary thought across a wide range of areas, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, and philosophy of religion.  A popular interpretative narrative – deriving from Norman Kemp Smith, and later strongly endorsed (both interpretatively and philosophically) by Barry Stroud, Peter Strawson, and many others – views Hume’s naturalism as providing some general response, or even a resolution, to the sceptical problems that he raises.  Here I want to challenge this sort of narrative, by drawing distinctions within both naturalism and scepticism, and showing how Hume’s responses to his most prominent philosophical challenges are importantly different, while the idea that he employs a consistent “naturalist” strategy to address them is also misguided when examined in detail.  The results are relevant not only to Hume interpretation, but also to the issues that Hume discusses.

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