An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
An Inquiry Concerning Human Freedom
Hume argues in his Enquiry that necessity and liberty are compatible, and that the dispute between the two is only due to improper definitions of the terms (Hume 92). The question that he poses in his paper is whether we are responsible for our actions if all events are necessary. This paper will argue that, since all events are necessary and we are not free to choose them, we are thus not responsible for our actions.
Hume begins his Enquiry with the problem of induction. Hume first defines human reasoning in two ways: "Relations of Ideas" and "Matters of Fact" (40). Relations of ideas are independently true by their own definitions, such as Geometry and Mathematics. For example, it is always true that a triangle will have three sides because by definition a triangle is a three-sided figure. Matters of facts are based on experience and are all "founded on the relation of cause and effect." (41) Unlike relations of ideas, they are not true by definition. Since a cause does not define its effect necessarily, any number of effects from a given cause are equally logical.
Hume then applies this logic to causality, which is a relation of cause and effect. Although A's have been always followed by...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 873 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6695 literature essays, 1804 sample college application essays, 276 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in