This paper discusses the relationship between what we today would call the strictly philosophical parts of Humes works and his monumental and once popular History of England. In the first part I present an overview of this work and claims that it can by no means be considered a traditional narrative concentrating on actions of princes and statesmen. Instead I find a clear tendency in Hume to present his main theme – constitutional change in England – within a framework of economic and general cultural development. In the second part I present an exegesis of Humes view of human nature, arguing that Hume never claimed that the human condition was stable, but only that an invariant basis may take on radically different forms given diverse circumstances. Finally, I contrast Humes portrait of modernity with Max Webers version, finding Hume to rely more on non-cognitive mechanisms and politics than new form forms of especially economical rationality.
David Hume's theoretical philosophy was long dominated by the interpretation of him as a skeptical empiricist as found in the writings of Read, Beattie, Green etc. Although this has changed substantially the last half-century – especially with the advent of the «New Hume Debate» – there is much work that remains to be done, especially in regard to his analysis of causal induction. In this essay I argue that Hume's analysis of, and arguments surrounding, causal induction should not be read as an attempt at doing skeptical metaphysics and/or epistemology, but rather as an early form of cognitive psychology. I argue this thesis in three steps. In the first two sections I analyze Hume's account of his general and more specific project(s) in the Treatise and the first Enquiry and show that Hume takes himself to be doing empirical and experimental psychology. I then turn to Hume's specific argumentation concerning causal induction, where I show that rather than establishing a skeptical position, his arguments prefigure contemporary poverty of stimulus-arguments for innate cognitive mechanisms unexplainable by (at least certain) general-purpose means, and that he can fruitfully be situated along other Scottish thinkers in advancing an early conception of the Duplex Mind.
Habermas discourse ethics is today one of the most prominent and influential theories within practical philosophy and a wide range of social sciences. Nevertheless, Habermas is from the beginning of the 1990s and onwards adamantly clear on the point that his theory is not an ethical one. Rather, it is to be described as discourse theory, although he occasionally sticks with the established term discourse ethics. The article sets out to demonstrate why this change of name and an ensuing restructuring of the entire theoretical framework take place, and why these changes are also strictly necessary from a normative perspective. I argue that it is a much needed clarification of the practical-philosophical terms of ethics, morality and right and their internal relationship that constitutes a main, but often overlooked source for this important development within Habermas overall theory. In particular, a new understanding of the role of institutionalised law and legal discourses in regulating human interaction leads to a differentiation of discourse theory that sets him apart from both his earlier writings and the theses of his good friend and colleague Karl-Otto Apel.
The article is an analysis for Rawls' conception of rationality in the heritage from Kant, with a focus on the differences between the categorical imperative and the original position - perhaps the philosophers' two most famous constructions - and corresponding concepts with a view to how they conceive of the rational actor. It is argued that Rawls' position is suprisingly inconsistent with Kant's moral philosphy, and even though this becomes clearer and more recognized as Rawls' philosophy develops, this has always been the case. Instead, it is argued that Rawls' project is closer to Kant's political philosophy. Kant's political philosophy is, however, not present in Rawls' own works as an inspiration, and it is not as a political thinker that Rawls claims Kantian inspiration. In this light, Rawls is not the deontologist which he is known for being.
When thinking about the concept of proof in mathematics, the connection to conviction and certainty seems inevitable. The task of the proof in mathematics is supposedly to convince someone of the truth of a proposition. Proof then appears to be a monolithic concept, and our requests for proof appear to be motivated by a single, uniform need: to be persuaded. A natural reaction to this seeming uniformity is a will to explain why a proof can have this convincing effect. It is, however, worth considering whether this tight association between proof and certainty does justice to the concept of proof. This essay explores our need for proofs through the consideration of an example of a simple rule of arithmetic, which one wants to see proven. This shows that there may different motives behind a request for a proof and that some of these do not necessarily stem from a need to be persuaded. A proof could have provided an answer but something else might have been sufficient too. Thus, in mathematical practice proofs are found to perform different tasks and cannot be understood exclusively in terms of conviction. This has consequences for the philosophical understanding of mathematics in general.