General rules and the normative dimension of belief in Hume’s epistemology

Ruth Marcela Espinosa


The main concern of this paper is whether Hume’s account of belief has a normative dimension, especially concerning his account of general rules of reasoning in his Treatise of Human Nature, and consequently, whether it is possible to offer an account of the normative force of those rules in spite of his naturalist framework. I conclude that there are many normative elements in his conception of belief and reasoning, and that, as many authors in recent studies of normativity have suggested, naturalism can sufficiently account for the normative structures of our cognition and their normative authority. Such a view of the normative dimension of belief in Hume’s epistemology also shows an interesting and close connection with the moral dimension of his thought, which I believe is of fundamental importance for understanding his thought in general.

Keywords: Hume, general rules, normativity, belief.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License [Updated on September 23, 2016].

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