Does all knowledge about what exists rest on sense experience?

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Katie
  • Created on: 07-05-14 09:34

Humes Fork

  • We can have knowledge of two sorts of things: 'Relations between ideas', and 'matters of fact' 
  • Relations of ideas are propositions like 'all fathers have sons'
  • Hume argues that all a priori knowledge (statements which are true by definition, outside of experience) must be analytic, and all knowldge of synthetic propositions must be a posteriori (statements which are not implicit in the definition of the subject but must be known through experience)
  • Anything that is not true by definition ('matters of fact') must be learnt through the senses 
  • Hume's 'matters of fact' are analytic
1 of 4

Matters of fact

  • Hume says that the foundation of knowledge of matters of fact is what we experience here and now, or what we can remember 
  • All our knowledge that goes beyond the aforementioned rests on casual inference
    • For example, if I receive a letter from a friend with a French postcard in it, I'll believe my friend is in France.
      • I know this because I infer from post mark to place
      • I think that where something is posted causes it to have a postmark from that place.
      • If that letter was posted by my friend, I would believe they were in France.
  • I 'know' this because I rely on past experiences
  • I don’t work out what causes what by thinking about it 
  • It is only our experience of effects and causes that brings us to infer what cause has what effect 
  • Hume denies that this is proof 
  • He says that knowledge of matters of facts, beyond what we're experience here and now relies on induction and reasoning about probability 
2 of 4

Induction and Deduction

The terms relate to a type of argument

  • An inductive argument is where the conclusion is not logically entailed by its premises, but supported by them
  • If the premise is true the conclusion is likely to be true
  • The french letter is an example of inductive reasoning
  • A deductive argument is an argument whose conclsion is llogically entailed by its premises 
  • If the premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false
      • E.g. Premise 1: Socrates is a man
      • Premise 2: all men are mortal;
      • Conclusion: Socrates is mortal
3 of 4

Using a priori intuition and demonstartion to esta

Rationalists argue against Hume saying that some claims about what exists can be grounded on a prior intuition.

A priori demonstration, or deduction, is deduction that uses a priori premises

Rational intuition is the view that you can discover the truth of a claim by thinking about it 

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Reason and experience resources »