This study will examine the problem skeptical philosopher David Hume encounters with respect to induction or the induction method, based on his work Enquiries: Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. That problem, of course, is that Hume's rigorous skepticism effectively makes impossible any induction whatsoever in his philosophical "enquiries."
Hume was a British empiricist who like other empiricists believed that human beings can know nothing beyond what is revealed to them by their experience. Hume also believed that the human mind, human reason, is severely limited in its power to interpret and understand that experience.
Hume took philosophical empiricism and skepticism to its ultimate conclusion, questioning whether it was possible for human beings to truly know anything whatsoever about themselves or their world: "So narrow are the bounds of human understanding, that little satisfaction can be hoped for in this particular" (8).
The process of induction, or the inductive method, involves the idea of causality. This involves the assumption that things and events have causes, that something causes them to be, and that there is a connection between the cause and the effect which we can determine and understand.
Hume, however, removes the power of reason from the equation of the interpretation of experience. To Hume, what exists in the human mind is not rational activity accurately and comprehensively analyzing the information gathered by the senses from experience. To the contrary, he believes that the mind is composed of nothing but "impressions and ideas" which are themselves merely immaterial reflections of the experience itself.
In other words, the mind does not understand experience, but merely reflects it in terms the mind believes to be rational interpretation and understanding. Hume says that the mind appears to be capable of "unbounded liberty," but a deeper analysis re...