Peter Kail’s Hume Overview on the Elucidations Podcast

Peter KailFolks looking for a clear, concise Hume review with some nice additional details after our epistemology and ethics episodes on him would benefit from this Elucidations episode featuring Oxford Lecturer Peter Kail.

Kail gives a more comprehensive biography than we did, covers induction (note that we also discussed this issue a bit on our Nelson Goodman epsiode), reason, motivation (which we discussed not only in our ethics episode but also in our conversation with Pat Churchland, though his take on motivation based on pleasure and pain can profitably be compared to Spinoza's), animal behavior, and philosophy of religion (you can jump into some discussion from this site on Hume on miracles here and here; note that Kail cites Dan Dennett's book as a direct continuation of Hume's approach.)

Elucidations also has a blog now, though I see only one post on this Hume episode, an essay on induction (and no, the "Mark" who commented on that post is not me).

Given our upcoming semiotics episode, this also seems a good time to plug our Frege episode, which featured Elucidations host Matt Teichman, as there are interesting comparisons to be made between the continental (Ferdinand de Saussure) and analytic (Gottlob Frege) approaches to language.

-Mark Linsenmayer


  1. Ryan says

    I think Hume’s problem of induction still isn’t given enough credit as it should. Here is Adrian Johnston in “Hume’s Revenge: A dieu, Meillassoux” concerning present day critical materialist flirtations with the possibility of a virtual God.

    ‘If material being an sich is contingent qua containing within itself no law-like necessary connections, then why isn’t reality and the experience of it a violently anarchic and frenetic flux? Asked differently, how come there are apparently stable causal orders and structures if absolute being actually is hyper-chaotic?’

    It’s a devastating critique of the instrumentalist sciences, particularly physics, as they seek to hold up the of the contingent manifold of the world as a sort of modern day miracle manifesting mankind, that has been met largely without a mature response from practicing scientists for multiple centuries now. Hume’s response concerning human sociality in the face of this absurd state of nature needs to be carefully re-analyzed by academics, as it holds a key to answering the problem of a rational meeting point between politics, science, and “every day life”.

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