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Hume Studies Volume 28, Number 1, April 2002, pp. 157-160 RUPERT READ and KENNETH A. RICHMAN, eds. The New Hume Debate. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. Pp. viii + 210. ISBN 0415238846, cloth, £50.00. The "New Hume" referred to in the title of this collection of essays is the Hume who is supposed to be a causal realist in Galen Strawson's and John Wright's senses of that term. There aTe, of course, other "New Humes." (Kenneth Winkler was quick to point this out when he first used the term to refer to causal realist interpretations of Hume.) There is the "New Hume" who is not an inductive sceptic, the "New Hume" who is a moral realist, and the "New Hume" who is a causal realist of a very different kind, to name but a few. Perhaps the book should have been called A New Hume Debate to acknowledge the many interesting and new interpretations of Hume that have very little to do with Strawson's and Wright's forms of causal realism and may even be incompatible with them. Although the title promises a debate, if a debate suggests arguments, objections , and rebuttals, this book does not quite deliver on its promise. There is such an exchange in four of the eleven essays in the book. (Strawson and Wright respond to Blackburn and Winkler, whose essays were previously published and already well known.) Richman acknowledges this in his introduction. He describes the contents of the book as "a back and forth exchange through the papers" just mentioned (11). He then describes the remaining papers in a way that sounds innocent and reasonable, but Richman fails to point out that all the remaining papers are critical of the "New Hume" and that neither Strawson nor Wright respond to these criticisms. We are left to speculate about the reason for this, and to wonder whether the "debate" is balanced and fair to all participants. At any rate, the lack of rebuttals should remind us that the debate remains open. One way to assess a collection of this sort is to consider the selection of essays and authors. Galen Strawson and John Wright were obvious choices. Each has written a new essay for the book addressing previously published objections to their views. As noted above, neither addresses new criticisms and objections raised by the other authors. Janet Broughton would have been another obvious choice. Although Richman mentions her paper as making an important contribution to his "New Hume" debate, the collection contains nothing by Broughton. The editors decided to use Barry Stroud's "'Gilding or Staining' the World ..." as the sole example of an alternative interpretation of Hume's view on causal connections. This choice was somewhat unfortunate. While " 'Gilding or Staining' ..." is a well-known and Hume Studies 158 Book Reviews highly regarded essay, Stroud is not sympathetic to Hume's views. The collection could have included Annette Baier's "Real Humean Causes," which argues that there is much to be said for Humean causation. Baier also illustrates Blackburn's point that one can be a causal realist without being a causal Realist . Kenneth Winkler's "The New Hume" and Simon Blackburn's "Hume and Thick Connexions" were also obvious choices. Both Winkler and Blackburn have added new postscripts; Winkler's brings in additional textual evidence that challenges Wright's interpretation, while Blackburn's helpfully lays out contemporary varieties of realism and antirealism and explains their relevance to this "New Hume" debate. The collection contains new essays by Edward Craig, Martin Bell, Daniel Flage, Anne Jaap Jacobson, and Rupert Read. In his criticism of Strawson, Bell carefully lays out the problem of reconciling inductive scepticism, and the connected claim that the evidence of sense and memory are our only reasons for empirical beliefs, with the kind of causal realism that Strawson attributes to Hume. The arguments are interesting but not conclusive, and one is left wondering how Strawson would respond. Bell's objection to Wright's causal realism is very powerful. Bell begins with the fact that "Hume argues that since causes and effects are distinct, the non-existence of the one object can never be contrary to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 157-160
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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