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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Benedict Smith

Smith, Benedict (2019). Hume on Belief and Vindicatory Explanations. Philosophy 94(2): 313-337.

Author(s) from Durham


Hume's account of belief is understood to be inspired by allegedly incompatible motivations, one descriptive and expressing Hume's naturalism, the other normative and expressing Hume's epistemological aims. This understanding assumes a particular way in which these elements are distinct: an assumption that I dispute. I suggest that the explanatory-naturalistic aspects of Hume's account of belief are not incompatible with the normative-epistemological aspects. Rather, at least for some central cases of belief formation that Hume discusses at length, S's coming to believe that p can be explained in a way that vindicates S's belief that p.