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Document Type


First Advisor

Godfrey, Dr. (Professor of philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Philosophy


David Hume was the first philosopher to discuss the problem of induction. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1) he divided the objects of human reason into two kinds, relations of ideas and matters of fact. Relations of ideas are those objects of reason which are intuitively or demonstratively certain, like arithmetical propositions. They are discoverable by thought alone. Matters of fact, on the other hand, are not known demonstratively. They are based in experience and come to be known through the relation of cause and effect and not through thought alone. Hume considers the ability to draw these inferences as a principle of human nature. He calls this principle habit, or custom. There is, however, a problem concerning this custom. Hume is curious as to “…what is the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact…”(2). Though Hume never referred to this problem as such, it has come to be known as the problem of induction.


Includes bibliographical references.


25 pages




Northern Illinois University

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