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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 4, 1978

Solomon E. Levy
Pages 90-137

Dialogues Concerning Unnatural Uniformity (or Hume Persistently Misunderstood)

The subject of the "Dialogues" is the nature of the Humean "objects" which are "constantly conjoined" or historically and repetitively given in the same (mere) spatio-temporal relations. One participant contends that scientific knowledge is of indefinite possibilities of action, prevention, invention, and complication as functions of historically-changing and changeable causally affecting contingencies; and hence is not reducible to mere exceptionless (and hence fatalistic) correlations. The other participant contends that this reflects a "persistent misunderstanding of Hume": it is the "total" cause and effect which are given as (merely) constantly conjoined, but only contingently so. The "Dialogues" explore the defensibility of these positions, and their implications for our conceptions of uniformity, lawfulness, induction, sampling, verification, and theory construction.

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