Hume's "General Rules"

Philosophers' Imprint (forthcoming)
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Abstract

In this paper, I examine Hume’s account of an important class of causal belief which he calls “general rules”. I argue that he understands general rules, like all causal beliefs, as lively ideas which are habitually associated with our impressions or memories. However, I argue, he believes that they are unlike any reflectively produced causal beliefs in that they are produced quickly and automatically, such that they occur independently of any other processes of reasoning. Given this, I argue, Hume appears to understand general rules as relatively simple beliefs, expressible only via generic sentences, like “birds lay eggs”.

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James Chamberlain
University of Sheffield

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