Mura, Alberto Mario (1998) Hume's inductive logic. Synthese, Vol. 115 (3), p. 303-331. eISSN 1573-0964. Article.
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This paper presents a new account of Hume’s “probability of causes”. There are two main results attained in this investigation. The first, and perhaps the most significant, is that Hume developed – albeit informally – an essentially sound system of probabilistic inductive logic that turns out to be a powerful forerunner of Carnap’s systems. The Humean set of principles include, along with rules that turn out to be new for us, well known Carnapian principles, such as the axioms of semiregularity, symmetry with respect to individuals (exchangeability), predictive irrelevance and positive instantial relevance. The second result is that Hume developed an original conception of probability, which is subjective in character, although it differs from contemporary personalistic views because it includes constraints that are additional to simple consistency and do not vary between different persons. The final section is a response to Gower’s thesis, by which Hume’s probability of causes is essentially non-Bayesian in character. It is argued that, on closer examination, Gower’s reading of the relevant passages is untenable and that, on the contrary, they are in accordance with the Bayesian reconstruction presented in this paper.
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