Genetic Inference: A Reconsideration of David Hume's Empiricism
Massey (Barbara D.) & Massey (Gerald J.)
Source: Earman (John), Ed. - Inference, Explanation and Other Philosophical Frustrations
Paper - Abstract

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Editor’s Introduction1

  1. If empiricism is the view that no matter of fact can be known a priori, then Hume was not an empiricist. For, as Barbara and Gerald Massey show in their contribution, Hume's account of animals attributes to them factual knowledge which is not learned from experience but which is imparted to them by "the original hand of Nature." Hume could be said to remain an empiricist insofar as he denies that human beings have specialized innate cognitive faculties or instincts as opposed to generalized instincts, such as the inductive propensity.
  2. But the distinction between specialized and generalized propensities is vague and, thus, the boundaries of empiricism are fuzzy. If Nelson Goodman is right, we are endowed with the propensity to project 'green' instead of 'grue.' And Noam Chomsky has championed the view that we are endowed with complex propensities to map linguistic evidence to linguistic knowledge. Do such propensities, which are at once special and general, lie inside or outside the boundaries of empiricism?


Part I - Inference and Method

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Earman (John) - Inference, Explanation and Other Philosophical Frustrations: Introduction".

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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