Hume’s Absolute Necessity

Mind 123 (490):377-413 (2014)
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Hume regards the ‘absolute’ necessity attending demonstrable propositions as an expression of the limitations of human imagination. When we register our modal commitments in ordinary descriptive language, affirming that there are such-and-such absolute necessities, possibilities, and impossibilities, we are projecting our sense of what the human mind can and cannot conceive. In some ways the account parallels Hume’s famous treatment of the necessity of causes, and in some respects it anticipates recent expressivist theories of absolute modality. I marshal the evidence for this interpretation, show how it can explain a number of otherwise puzzling features of Hume’s modal epistemology and metaphysics, and situate this account of our modal discourse in Hume’s wider programme for a science of human nature.



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Thomas Holden
University of California at Santa Barbara

Citations of this work

Hume's Fork, and his Theory of Relations.Peter Millican - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (1):3-65.
Predication and Hume's Conceivability Principle.Hsueh Qu - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

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References found in this work

Is conceivability a guide to possibility?Stephen Yablo - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (1):1-42.
Is Conceivability a Guide to Possibility?Stephen Yablo - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (1):1-42.

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