Hume, the Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Tradition

In Angela Michelle Coventry & Alex Sager (eds.), The Humean Mind. New York: Routledge. pp. 388-402 (2018)
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Although the main focus of Hume’s career was in the humanities, his work also has an observable role in the historical development of natural sciences after his time. To show this, I shall center on the relation between Hume and two major figures in the history of the natural sciences: Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and Albert Einstein (1879–1955). Both of these scientists read Hume. They also found parts of Hume’s work useful to their sciences. Inquiring into the relations between Hume and the two scientists shows that his philosophical positions had a partial but constructive role in the formation of modern biology and physics. This is accordingly a clear indication of Hume’s impact on the scientific tradition. Before proceeding to analyze Hume’s contribution to the history of science, it is important to address his broader role in the history of philosophy of science. Hume’s discussions concerning the topics of causation, induction, the distinction between mathematical and empirical propositions, and laws of nature have been important for the philosophy of science of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Matias Kimi Slavov
Tampere University


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