Talk:Hume's fork

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There seems to be a couple of issues with this article. While one could state, "Hume essentially proved that no truth exists in science," Hume provided a (more accurate) portrayal of science as a system of probability and uncertainty (reminding one of quantum mechanics). Additionaly, Hume specifically doubts such events as: "The next time we drop a rock, it might miraculously go up," in 'On Miracles' in his 'Enquiry,' as miracles (as they are defined) go against the laws of nature, which have been crafted and finetuned over the years to represent a vast amount of experience humanity has had with the world. The probability of a rock going up instead of down, based on our past experiences is essentially nil. Indeed, even if such a thing were to happen, Hume would question the witness's validity and integrity.

This is the long way of saying that I think the first statement might lead readers to think that Hume the empiricist thought science was pointless, and that the second statement does not reflect his philosophy.

Clean up.[edit]

This article is a little messy and unstructured in my opinion. Could someone flag this article as such please? FredTheDeadHead 10:04, 11 July 2006 (UTC)


There is a novel coming out in 2007 by this same title. Some one should mention this.

Statements are too strong[edit]

I have made some changes as some statements were too strong. You can prove a mathematical statement true or false by provision of examples if the statement covers a finite set (all odd numbers less than 9 are prime is provable by example) - this is proof by exhaustion.

Also, stating that Hume denies the possibility of the proof of the existence of God is suspect. According to Hume's Fork, we can prove he exists as a relationship of ideas (e.g. the ontological argument) or as a matter of fact. Proving he exists requires a precise definition and measurable physical evidence - which is remarkably unlikely, but not ruled out by the Fork. BananaFiend 08:34, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Weakened the statement that proof of God is made pointless by Hume's Fork. The argument depended on a definition of God that was implied as accepted in some way. BananaFiend 16:10, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Certainty in Science[edit]

"Hume wants to prove that certainty does not exist in science"

Does he? Science, even without the problem of induction, does not offer us any kind of certainty, but only probability. It is admitted by knowledgable advocates of the principle of induction that it cannot give certainty. I'd say that Hume is trying to make us reject inductive reasoning altogether. —Preceding unsigned comment added by BombaMolotov (talkcontribs) 16:41, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

"I'd say that Hume is trying to make us reject inductive reasoning altogether."

This is certainly false. Hume's skepticism about certainty (in relations of causality, inductive reasoning, is never used to urge us to abandon those practises. He merely wants us to recognize, in the cool philosophical hour, that such activities can never lead to certainty, no matter how much habit and custom lead us to believe otherwise.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by oljimmy

Example problem[edit]

I think some attention should be given to this example of the second half of the fork:

water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit

Is this an observable knowable, or a definition? It could be either depending on context. We might chose a clearer illustrative example. -- (talk) 07:24, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't see how that's a definition. It's an observation of water doing something at a certain temperature. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

Water freezes at 32 F, because Fahrenheit defined the fahrenheit that way. He could have chosen another value. Or the value could change over time. Water freezes is the observation, that the point is labeled 32 fahrenheit is a definition. For example, the definition of celcius changed a bit in time, water boils now at 99.7. (talk) 18:09, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Examples of Analytic and Synthetic Judgements[edit]

The examples the author gives for synthetic judegements are actually analytic, and vice versa. The '2+2=4' example of an analytic judgement is most notably innacurate, as Kant uses a similar equation (7+5=12) as an example of a synthetic judgement in his Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics.[1] Furthermore, Kant claims that all mathematical propositions are synthetic.[2] The author is clearly confused on this point (of synthetic and analytic judgements), and I believe this article should be rewritten so that it contains a more valid account of it. Rcthepirate (talk) 04:46, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Removed probable Original Research[edit]

I removed this comment from the article, because in addition to being uncited it interrupted the flow of the article: {This is a common error concerning Hume's philosophy. Hume actually wants to figure out what we could mean by 'certainty' in science, and seeks to discover from where we received the idea of the certainty or necessity in science. He shows that it is not derived from a priori reasoning, but is instead is a product of human nature.} --Jules.LT (talk) 10:31, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

I strongly dislike using Kant's theory of analytic and synthetic propositions to explain Hume's understanding of impressions and ideas. If you can't explain Hume without resorting to Kant, then perhaps you should not be writing an article on Hume's theory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:17, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Hume himself did not quite explicate Hume's fork. The term as well as the content of Hume's fork—much like Hume's problem of induction as well as Hume's law—was developed and refined by later philosophers. If you want a "pure" explanation of Hume, then undo most accepted scholarship on and summaries of Hume's theses. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:27, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Introduction for the layman[edit]

The opening paragraph of this article seems too technical to me. I'm a professional mathematician but had to re-read it a couple of times before I got the point. Unfortunately I don't have the expertise to write a jargon-free intro myself but perhaps somebody else could? Just a couple of sentences so that the interested layman who has never heard of Hume or his work can find out what the phrase "Hume's fork" means... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:55, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ (Kant, Immanuel. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Revised edition 2004, Pg. 18)
  2. ^ (Kant, Immanuel. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Revised edition 2004, Pg. 18)