Skepticism and probability
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Skepticism and probability book
In both the Treatise and the ﬁrst Enquiry, Hume concludes his examination of the human understanding by reviewing and assessing a set of doubt-inducing discoveries that raise the question of what he calls “the veracity or deceitfulness” of our faculties (THN 22.214.171.124/153; THN 126.96.36.199/180; THN 188.8.131.52/187; EHU 12.3/ 149; EHU 12.13-14/153-54). We may call his doubt-inducing discoveries about human cognitive faculties his skeptical considerations and his two ordered examinations of them his skeptical recitals. In the ﬁnal section of Treatise Book 1 (“Conclusion of this book”),
he vividly enacts a profound epistemological crisis that is provoked by ﬁve discoveries about human reason as the inferential faculty [3.3], and in its ﬁnal sentence he declares himself, indirectly but unmistakably, a “sceptic.” The Appendix to the Treatise subsequently adds to that work’s skeptical considerations one more doubt-inducing discovery, derived from a newly discovered “contradiction” in his own account of personal identity. Yet his skepticism is limited in degree and governed by what we may call his Title Principle:
[Title Principle:] Where reason is lively and mixes itself with some propensity, it ought to be assented to. Where it does not, it never can have any title to operate on us.