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Hume Studies

Volume 47, Issue 1, April 2022

Graham Clay
Pages 55-77

Hume’s Incredible Demonstrations

Commentators have rightly focused on the reasons why Hume maintains that the conclusions of skeptical arguments cannot be believed, as well as on the role these arguments play in Hume’s justification of his account of the mind. Nevertheless, Hume’s interpreters should take more seriously the question of whether Hume holds that these arguments are demonstrations. Only if the arguments are demonstrations do they have the requisite status to prove Hume’s point—and justify his confidence—about the nature of the mind’s belief-generating faculties. In this paper, I treat Hume’s argument against the primary/secondary quality distinction as my case study, and I argue that it is intended by Hume to be a demonstration of a special variety.