Hume’s Skepticism

by Daniel Greco

Explore the limits of knowledge with one of the leading lights of the Enlightenment, David Hume.


Daniel Greco

I am an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Yale. I completed my PhD in Philosophy at MIT in 2012. Before that, I was an undergraduate at Princeton, and an MPhil student at Cambridge.

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Part 1

According to the philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), absolutely everything we know falls into one of two categories: either it is a relation of ideas (e.g., 2 + 2 =4) or it is a matter of fact (e.g., the sky is blue). Daniel Greco walks us through this famous Humean distinction in preparation for examining Hume’s even more famous skeptical argument against induction.


Part 2

How do we know stuff about matters of fact that we have yet to observe? For example, how do I know that the sun will rise tomorrow? A natural answer is that we have this knowledge through induction: I know the sun will rise tomorrow, because it has risen every day in the past. Now, the philosopher David Hume recognized that this inductive reasoning assumes that the future will resemble the past. Why think that this assumption is true though? How do we know that the future will resemble the past? This question is the starting point for Hume’s skeptical argument against induction (and his skeptical solution), which Daniel Greco lays out in detail in this video.