John Locke vs. David Hume

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show me
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 12:53 am
Hello,
I was wondering if anyone would be able to point out flaws that can help me focus on an argument.

Locke says private property is right we assert by natural law. Hume says the 'laws' of nature are maintained only by custom and convention. Do Hume's views on knowledge of the natural world overturn Locke's claims to a natural property right?
I have an essay to write (considering the typical topic) and I am having a hard time connecting the two philosophies.

Also, can someone explain to me Hume's view on causation/induction
Thank you in advance!
 
Emil
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 06:48 am
@show me,
Why don't you just read the works of the two philosophers?

If you don't want to do that, then there is secondary literature.

David Hume (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
John Locke (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Of course these are not the only articles on the fabulous source that SEP is. I imagine that this is also relevant

Kant and Hume on Causality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 06:53 am
@show me,
show me;133931 wrote:
Hello,
I was wondering if anyone would be able to point out flaws that can help me focus on an argument.

Locke says private property is right we assert by natural law. Hume says the 'laws' of nature are maintained only by custom and convention. Do Hume's views on knowledge of the natural world overturn Locke's claims to a natural property right?
I have an essay to write (considering the typical topic) and I am having a hard time connecting the two philosophies.

Also, can someone explain to me Hume's view on causation/induction
Thank you in advance!


You are asking for a short course on a large subject. There is no such thing.
 
show me
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 11:22 am
@show me,
I have read the works, but due to my course load it was hard for me to read actively to a level that is required.

The most important thing for me is the connection between the two philosophers.

Clearly, there is something that I have failed to understand or have missed while reading the works.

---------- Post added 03-01-2010 at 12:40 PM ----------

Emil;134011 wrote:
Why don't you just read the works of the two philosophers?

If you don't want to do that, then there is secondary literature.

David Hume (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
John Locke (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Of course these are not the only articles on the fabulous source that SEP is. I imagine that this is also relevant

Kant and Hume on Causality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


Actually those links helped out a lot!
Thank you!
 
Insty
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 09:14 pm
@show me,
show me;133931 wrote:
Hello,
I was wondering if anyone would be able to point out flaws that can help me focus on an argument.

Locke says private property is right we assert by natural law. Hume says the 'laws' of nature are maintained only by custom and convention. Do Hume's views on knowledge of the natural world overturn Locke's claims to a natural property right?
I have an essay to write (considering the typical topic) and I am having a hard time connecting the two philosophies.

Also, can someone explain to me Hume's view on causation/induction
Thank you in advance!

I'm not sure I completely understand your question, but if Hume believes that laws are maintained by custom and convention, he would have to deny Locke's view that there is a natural law that affords human beings the right to property.

---------- Post added 03-01-2010 at 11:20 PM ----------

As for induction and causality, Hume's view is basically that there is no necessary connection between a cause and its effect. As I recall, he uses the example of one billiard ball hitting another. According to Hume, it's entirely conceivable that instead of one ball hitting the other and setting it in motion, the first ball would "leap" off of the table, or bounce backwards, etc. So for Hume, causality is essentially a psychological phenomenon: we've seen events conjoined so many times that our minds habitually regard one event as being caused by the other.
 
show me
 
Reply Tue 2 Mar, 2010 02:00 pm
@Insty,
Yea I got how his theory of causation/induction works
As for the question, I am writing a philosophical comparison paper and he is asking me if Hume has successfully overruled Locke's belief on natural 'law', where Hume believes that these 'laws' are created by custom and convention.

I'm trying to find a flaw in Humes theory, maybe there isn't any? I'm trying to take an original approach to this paper, because I know something is wrong but I have having a hard time articulating my idea.
 
show me
 
Reply Tue 2 Mar, 2010 05:27 pm
@show me,
Hume does not believe that there is a necessary connection between cause and effect.
What I would argue is that there is a NECESSARY connection between cause and effect in order to sustain life. If we did not use those connections between cause and effect then half the world would cease to exist past adolescence. For example, a teenager is cooking dinner and cuts their hand with the knife, if we did not use the connection that "knife cuts skin", then we will always lack that knowledge that a knife cuts and continuously cut our hand. Or if a little boy breaks his leg in a soccer game, and failed make the necessary connection that running too fast without being able to slow down (sorry for the bad example but I honestly don't know what situations will result into breaking a leg) then every time that boy runs, he will run too fast and maybe even crack his skull against a post. The possibilities are endless. If someone doesn't feel pain when hurt, then there is no limitations on the persons actions that will help them understand that certain things will cause death. These are not merely customs and conventions, but rather they are a necessary part of life. One cannot live without these connections. Our entire brain is made of connections that are necessary for our brain to function.

Comments?
 
show me
 
Reply Tue 2 Mar, 2010 09:57 pm
@show me,
I will begin with an explicit description on John Locke's belief that humans have a natural right to private property, followed by Hume's theory on causation, induction, and necessary connections. I will argue that Hume's claim to the origin of causation invalidates Locke's idea of inherent natural rights or 'laws' , in which John Locke's 'necessary connexion' between the human body and the right to private property is based upon custom, convention, and an assumed causational truth.


Anyone want to comment on my thesis?
 
Emil
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 02:47 am
@show me,
show me;134892 wrote:
Hume does not believe that there is a necessary connection between cause and effect.
What I would argue is that there is a NECESSARY connection between cause and effect in order to sustain life. If we did not use those connections between cause and effect then half the world would cease to exist past adolescence. For example, a teenager is cooking dinner and cuts their hand with the knife, if we did not use the connection that "knife cuts skin", then we will always lack that knowledge that a knife cuts and continuously cut our hand. Or if a little boy breaks his leg in a soccer game, and failed make the necessary connection that running too fast without being able to slow down (sorry for the bad example but I honestly don't know what situations will result into breaking a leg) then every time that boy runs, he will run too fast and maybe even crack his skull against a post. The possibilities are endless. If someone doesn't feel pain when hurt, then there is no limitations on the persons actions that will help them understand that certain things will cause death. These are not merely customs and conventions, but rather they are a necessary part of life. One cannot live without these connections. Our entire brain is made of connections that are necessary for our brain to function.

Comments?


I don't think that is what Hume meant with necessary connection. I think he meant something like logical implication. Think of his thought experiments, it is not contrary to reason to conceive one one ball hitting another ball and then nothing happening. This shows (he thinks) that there is no logical implication from "one ball hitting another ball" to "the other ball will move". I think he is correct in this.

But then again, it is the interpretation game. One can interpret Hume in 10 different ways. For favorable interpretations send a PM to Pyrrho, a user here that evidently likes Hume and pretty much agrees with everything he ever wrote. He may be able to give you some favorable interpretation of Hume's necessary connection.

---------- Post added 03-03-2010 at 09:49 AM ----------

show me;135127 wrote:
I will begin with an explicit description on John Locke's belief that humans have a natural right to private property, followed by Hume's theory on causation, induction, and necessary connections. I will argue that Hume's claim to the origin of causation invalidates Locke's idea of inherent natural rights or 'laws' , in which John Locke's 'necessary connexion' between the human body and the right to private property is based upon custom, convention, and an assumed causational truth.


Anyone want to comment on my thesis?


I wonder who makes up these boring questions. Why waste time writing about what Hume thought about this and that in comparison with what some other dead guy thought? I would think that the truth is the interesting thing, not what people in the 1600-1700 thought. Unless it is for history of philosophy class, of course.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:28 am
@show me,
show me;135127 wrote:
I will begin with an explicit description on John Locke's belief that humans have a natural right to private property, followed by Hume's theory on causation, induction, and necessary connections. I will argue that Hume's claim to the origin of causation invalidates Locke's idea of inherent natural rights or 'laws' , in which John Locke's 'necessary connexion' between the human body and the right to private property is based upon custom, convention, and an assumed causational truth.


Anyone want to comment on my thesis?
You seem, to me, to be confusing natural law with laws of nature, and comparing apples with oranges.
 
Emil
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 04:12 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;135297 wrote:
You seem, to me, to be confusing natural law with laws of nature, and comparing apples with oranges.


Indeed.

Quote:
The term "natural law" is ambiguous. It refers to a type of moral theory, as well as to a type of legal theory, but the core claims of the two kinds of theory are logically independent. It does not refer to the laws of nature, the laws that science aims to describe. According to natural law moral theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings and the nature of the world. While being logically independent of natural law legal theory, the two theories intersect. However, the majority of the article will focus on natural law legal theory.
Natural Law [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Quote:
Laws of Nature are to be distinguished both from Scientific Laws and from Natural Laws. Neither Natural Laws, as invoked in legal or ethical theories, nor Scientific Laws, which some researchers consider to be scientists' attempts to state or approximate the Laws of Nature, will be discussed in this article. Instead, it explores issues in contemporary metaphysics.


Laws of Nature [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Hume was talking about laws of nature, not natural laws. At least as far as I know.

Some authors prefer instead to call laws of nature for physical laws, but other people use that term for scientific laws (the laws that science invest), etc. It is a conceptual muddle!

For an interesting theory of laws of nature, see Norman Swartz's The Concept of Physical Law. (And the second article quoted from above which is incidentally also written by him.)

"The Concept of Physical Law", by Norman Swartz
 
show me
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 12:04 pm
@Emil,
I need to talk about natural laws because of Locke.
He believes there is such thing as natural laws
Hume believes that these "laws' of nature are created through custom and convention through necessary connections.

I'm doing a comparative essay in which these 'laws' of nature that Locke believes we have an inherent right to are not actual laws but rather are a conjunction of of impressions creating necessary connections.
For example, the sun rises every morning and because it does rise every morning does not mean in the future it will rise in the morning.
Locke's idea of inherent right to property, life, and liberty is based on the natural 'laws' where he assumes that causal relation between nature and our bodies.
This is incorrect, according to Hume, because his belief of causation/induction demolishes the laws in which Locke believes in, and technically makes Locke's claim invalid. Locke's claim is based on convention and wishful thinking.
It make's life easier to think this way because it is universally agreeable that we have a right to 'own' something, especially when we have invested time and effort into creating and distributing substances.

---------- Post added 03-03-2010 at 01:09 PM ----------

Emil;135298 wrote:
Indeed.

Natural Law [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]



Laws of Nature [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Hume was talking about laws of nature, not natural laws. At least as far as I know.


Locke is using laws of nature to create a causal relation between nature (our bodies) and the right to private property with use of labour.
Which is where my who argument stands upon.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 12:31 pm
@show me,
show me;134892 wrote:
Hume does not believe that there is a necessary connection between cause and effect.
What I would argue is that there is a NECESSARY connection between cause and effect in order to sustain life. If we did not use those connections between cause and effect then half the world would cease to exist past adolescence. For example, a teenager is cooking dinner and cuts their hand with the knife, if we did not use the connection that "knife cuts skin", then we will always lack that knowledge that a knife cuts and continuously cut our hand. Or if a little boy breaks his leg in a soccer game, and failed make the necessary connection that running too fast without being able to slow down (sorry for the bad example but I honestly don't know what situations will result into breaking a leg) then every time that boy runs, he will run too fast and maybe even crack his skull against a post. The possibilities are endless. If someone doesn't feel pain when hurt, then there is no limitations on the persons actions that will help them understand that certain things will cause death. These are not merely customs and conventions, but rather they are a necessary part of life. One cannot live without these connections. Our entire brain is made of connections that are necessary for our brain to function.

Comments?


If you will pardon me for saying so, you are misunderstanding Hume. He never denies that we use the ideas of cause and effect, and regards them as essential for life. He just does not believe that the "necessary connection" is discovered in the objects of experience, but is really a habit of the mind to connect the things together. Hume also discusses animals in connection with this; they do the same sort of thing, which is necessary for their survival. And given that animals do this, as well as the fact that the stupidest functional human does this, it cannot be dependent upon some obscure and difficult metaphysical reasoning that people make inferences from cause to effect. To use a modern term, it is based upon instinct.

If you want to read Hume on this, you will want to read his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and his Treatise of Human Nature and An Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature (which is quite short and to the point) if you want more on this. But you can also get the basic idea from reading about his ideas written by someone else:

David Hume (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

It is covered in sections 10-12 at the link above.
 
show me
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 12:33 pm
@Pyrrho,
Yea I had done some further reading on Hume and I stand corrected.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 12:41 pm
@Emil,
Emil;135293 wrote:
...

I wonder who makes up these boring questions. Why waste time writing about what Hume thought about this and that in comparison with what some other dead guy thought? I would think that the truth is the interesting thing, not what people in the 1600-1700 thought. Unless it is for history of philosophy class, of course.



First, there is no universally agreed upon idea of what is true with regard to the issues in question, so it is less than clear what one would study if one wants the truth. Second, seeing what other people had to say, and comparing and contrasting their views with each other, may help one to come up with better ideas than simply thinking about it on one's own. It is good to read different ideas, so that one is not simply suckered by the first seemingly plausible theory one encounters and stops with that.

One big advantage in reading the books of dead people is that one can read from the best minds of all ages, instead of confining oneself to whoever happens to be around presently. It is doubtful if, in the entire course of your life, you will ever encounter anyone who is even close to as great of a philosopher as David Hume.
 
show me
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 12:50 pm
@Pyrrho,
I just need to contrast Hume's theory of causation/induction to the natural laws that Locke so believes in, and how he discredits them.

So far it makes sense in my head. Maybe I haven't been articulating as well as I would want to.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 09:17 am
@Emil,
Emil;135293 wrote:
I don't think that is what Hume meant with necessary connection. I think he meant something like logical implication. Think of his thought experiments, it is not contrary to reason to conceive one one ball hitting another ball and then nothing happening. This shows (he thinks) that there is no logical implication from "one ball hitting another ball" to "the other ball will move". I think he is correct in this.

But then again, it is the interpretation game. One can interpret Hume in 10 different ways. For favorable interpretations send a PM to Pyrrho, a user here that evidently likes Hume and pretty much agrees with everything he ever wrote. He may be able to give you some favorable interpretation of Hume's necessary connection.

---------- Post added 03-03-2010 at 09:49 AM ----------



I wonder who makes up these boring questions. Why waste time writing about what Hume thought about this and that in comparison with what some other dead guy thought? I would think that the truth is the interesting thing, not what people in the 1600-1700 thought. Unless it is for history of philosophy class, of course.


For one thing, we can learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid making the same mistakes.

It is not a matter of interpretation. Hume meant nothing like what the poster meant by necessary connection. He meant what Spinoza meant, for he was attacking Spinoza (and the other Rationalists' theory of causation) as logically necessary connection. Philosophical discussion does not take place in an historical vacuum.

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana.
 
vhawk
 
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 07:33 pm
@Emil,
focus on the word law and ask what is a law?
 
vhawk
 
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 07:38 pm
@Emil,
what do you think?
think for yourself.

those that understand never explain; those that don't. can't help explaining.
 
chaz wyman
 
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 05:02 am
@show me,
show me wrote:

Hello,
I was wondering if anyone would be able to point out flaws that can help me focus on an argument.

Locke says private property is right we assert by natural law. Hume says the 'laws' of nature are maintained only by custom and convention. Do Hume's views on knowledge of the natural world overturn Locke's claims to a natural property right?
I have an essay to write (considering the typical topic) and I am having a hard time connecting the two philosophies.

Also, can someone explain to me Hume's view on causation/induction
Thank you in advance!

Johnson said that natural law or natural rights was lies on stilts.
Locke was a believer in God, and thus as nature is by god's design, anything that appears widely in human society is in the design of god and therefore a natural right, by god's design. This is a particularly specious argument. One wonders if, on observing homosexual activity in animals he would also be inclined to also call that 'natural' - I think not.
The entire edifice of the Natural Law movement was initiated by the devout, to emphasis parts of social practice that pleased them and to call them natural.
Hume on the other hand thought that a skeptical approach to all questions was the best place to start, where Locke had already tied his own hands by assuming that god had designed us is specific ways. For Locke it was just a case to reveal God's design in nature; for Hume it was more the case to ask by what means our social practices had emerged, through convention and practice. And by reflecting upon humans' long history, Hume concluded that social practice related to the contingencies of the past, and not to a static overall design.

On the question of cause. He noted that induction was not as reliable as deduction. Deduction was a conclusion in which the premises demanded the answer. Whereas Induction, which proposed, and underlying property to observed phenomena, was based on experience alone.
The reasoning simply put is that if I strike a billard ball against another there is no reason to suggest what might happen next, but the use of logic or reason. The ball might bounce back; it might stop and transfer the motion to the other ball; or it might turn into a bowl of flowers.
The reaction we expect - is just that - an expectation, based on what we have previously observed. Thus the laws of motion being obtained from observation and experience rely on the habitual succession of events. We cannot know what is the deeper 'cause', as this begs the question what is the cause of the cause. For pragmatic purposes we continually build science to describe these phenomena, but it is a mistake to think that we have really explained anything.
We might think the sun will rise in the morning, but we have no a priori reason to demand that it will.
Thus induction is the habitual observation of the succession of events which provide us with temporary laws of nature which we have to be ready to adapt in the light of new information.

 
 

 
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