Hume, Distinctions of Reason, and Differential Resemblance

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):156-182 (2011)
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Hume discusses the distinction of reason to explain how we distinguish things inseparable, and so identical, e.g., the color and figure of a white globe. He says we note the respect in which the globe is similar to a white cube and dissimilar to a black sphere, and the respect in which it is dissimilar to the first and similar to the second. Unfortunately, Hume takes these differing respects of resemblance to be identical with the white globe itself. Contradiction results, undermining his theory of abstraction. The way out is apparently to admit an intrinsic complexity in even simple things.

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Donald L. M. Baxter
University of Connecticut


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