"The worst ever conceived by a man of genius": Hume's probability argument in A Treatise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

18 Downloads (Pure)


The probability argument in Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (Section 1.4.1) has been widely criticized, with David Stove calling it “the worst [argument] ever conceived by a man of genius”. We explain that the argument is open to two interpretations: one that is in accordance with probability theory and one that is not. We surmise that Hume failed to distinguish between the two, and that this contributed to the confusion surrounding the argument.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReason to Dissent
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Argumentation
EditorsCatarina Dutilh Novaes, Henrike Jansen, Jan Albert van Laar, Bart Verheij
PublisherCollege Publications
ISBN (Print)978-1-84890-333-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Logic and Argumentation

Cite this