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Humes Criticisms

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What are Hume’s criticisms?
Explain how the criticisms attempt to disprove the Cosmological Argument.
Evaluate how successful Hume’s criticisms are.

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Humes Criticisms

  1. 1. Hume Challenges • What are Hume’s criticisms? • Explain how the criticisms attempt to disprove the Cosmological Argument. • Evaluate how successful Hume’s criticisms are.
  2. 2. Key Terms • Contingent – Things that depend upon other things to exist. • Necessary – Things that must exist in order for other things to exist. A thing that cannot not exist. • Necessary Link – A connection between a cause and an effect that must be there and can be seen. • Existential Proposition – Statements about existence. • Infinite Regression – The idea that the chain of causes and effects goes back infinitely and never “began”.
  3. 3. Hume’s Criticisms • Many of David Hume’s (18th C) arguments against the cosmological argument are copied from William of Ockham’s rejection of Aquinas’s Ways. This includes the criticism of assuming a connection between cause and effect since this cannot itself be experienced.
  4. 4. Hume’s Criticisms: 1. Like causes • Like causes resemble like effects. • Finite effects will have finite causes. • It would be more reasonable to assume that the world was created by male and female gods than to postulate the Christian God.
  5. 5. Hume’s Criticisms: 2. Experience • We have no experience of universes being made. • We know about causes within the universe but this does not entitle us to move to a cause of the universe as a whole. Synoptic Link Bertrand Russell said it is one thing to say that humans have a mother but you cannot move from that to postulate that the human race has a mother.
  6. 6. Hume’s Criticisms: 3. Logic • No proposition about existence can be logically necessary. • It is always perfectly possible to make an opposite statement to any existential proposition. Synoptic Link Aquinas is not saying God is logically necessary in the same way Anselm did. He is saying that God is necessary based on Motion, Cause etc. He is de re (in reality) necessary, not de dicto (by word – logically) necessary.
  7. 7. Hume’s Criticisms: 4. Necessity • The words ‘necessary being’ have no consistent meaning. • Any being that is said to exist could not exist. • ‘All existential propositions are synthetic.’
  8. 8. Hume’s Criticisms: 5. The Universe • If by necessary being we mean imperishable being, then the universe itself may be necessary. • If things in the universe are contingent, then why can we not see the universe itself as necessary? • Synoptic Link • Bertrand Russell said that the universe might well be seen as a “brute fact”. • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, so maybe the universe is itself infinite and eternal.
  9. 9. Hume’s Criticisms: 6. Infinite Regression • An infinite series is indeed possible, take mathematics. • As energy and matter are interchangeable, then why cannot it be seen that the universe is equivalent to energy which is eternal? • If an infinite series is possible then there is no need for a sufficient reason.
  10. 10. Hume’s Criticisms: 7. Causation • There is no way to prove causality. • You cannot prove that one event brings about another in any causal way. • When you hail a bus, you stop the bus, but you are not actually causing the bus to stop. It just appears that way. • Causation is just appearance. There is no actual causation.
  11. 11. To sum up • Like causes resemble like effects: we should not look to a creator unlike the creation. • We have no experience of universes being made: we cannot postulate what caused it. • No proposition about existence can be logically necessary: you can always postulate the opposite. • All existential propositions are synthetic: it means nothing to speak of necessary beings. • The universe is fact itself: if necessary means imperishable, then the universe may be necessary. • Infinite regression: why not appeal to infinite regression and reject “Sufficient Reason”. • You cannot establish causality.

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