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Hume’s Causal Reconstruction of the Perceptual Relativity Argument in Treatise 1.4.4

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2009

Annemarie Butler*
Iowa State University


ABSTRACT: In Treatise 1.4.4, on behalf of modern philosophers, Hume described a causal argument that shows that our impressions of secondary qualities do not resemble qualities of objects themselves. However, in their respective arguments, Hume’s philosophical predecessors did not argue causally, but appealed to contrary qualities. I argue that Hume’s presentation was not simply a “gratuitous” stylistic difference, but an important correction of his predecessors in light of his own philosophical discoveries.

RÉSUMÉ : Dans le Traité 1.4.4, Hume a présenté au nom des philosophes modernes un argument causal qui démontre que nos impressions des qualités secondaires ne ressemblent pas aux qualités des objets eux-mêmes. Les prédécesseurs de Hume n’ont pourtant pas employé d’argument causal, mais l’argument des qualités contraires. Je soutiens que la présentation qu’en a fait Hume n’est pas simplement à mettre au compte d’une différence stylistique «gratuite» mais est une correction importante dans la foulée de ses propres découvertes philosophiques.

Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2009

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