Volume 43, Issue 2, November 2017
Can Hume Deny Reid’s Dilemma?
Reid’s dilemma concludes that, whether the idea associated with a denied proposition is lively or faint, Hume is committed to saying that it is either believed or merely conceived. In neither case would there be denial. If so, then Hume cannot give an adequate account of denial. I consider and reject Powell’s suggestion that Hume could have advanced a “Content Contrary” account of denial that avoids Reid’s dilemma. However, not only would a Humean Content Contrary account be viciously circular, textual evidence suggests that Hume did not hold such an account. I then argue that Govier’s distinction between force and vivacity cannot help Hume. Not only did Hume fail to recognize this distinction, we can advance a variant of Reid’s dilemma even if we distinguish force from vivacity.