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David Hume Non Human Reasoning Essay

543 words - 3 pages

Nick Hittner
Phil 3120
Reaction Paper Cycle 3 Topic B
The topic of this paper is David Hume’s belief whether or not nonhuman animals are rational. David Hume has a belief that is in contrast to that of the Cartesian view of humans possessing a unique ability to reason. He believes that nonhuman animals do have this ability to reason but not one in the same as humans. In this paper I am going to defend Hume’s beliefs but also point out some of the downfalls to his arguments.
Hume believes that nonhumans do have the ability to reason because to suggest that they couldn’t would be implying that humans are radically different from animals. This is not good reasoning because humans and animals behave and have a great amount of similarities to each other. ...view middle of the document...

Hume is not suggesting that there is not difference only that it would be incorrect to say that animals do possess the ability to reason. His first reason to suggest that animals have the ability to reason is that they can learn from experience and can make links between events. Another reason is that animals do not make these connections using argument or reason but neither do children or anyone for that matter. He believes that humans just like animals make connections on experience and not through reason alone, humans use analogy but animals do not. Hume believes that the instincts that animals possess are no different from the ones shared by humans to reason on the basis of experience.
One of the problems I find with Hume’s conclusions is that he does not believe that human reasoning is not a special faculty of our mind. There are robots, computers, and other mechanical devices that behave in ways that are similar to humans but this does constitute proof that these devices act as a result of ideas or experiences to their consciousness. But I believe that computers don’t have the ability to act on causes that they aren’t programmed to handle. Humans and even animals to some extent can use reason, which we draw from previous experiences, to handle situations that have been thrown at us such as a fire or some other natural disaster. There are cases of animals doing extraordinary things in situations that they have never been in and have used reason to save their lives. Reason cannot obtain an a priori knowledge about the mysteries of the world. Reasoning is based on perceiving the right connections in nature and even with these connections we can never perceive any of these that go beyond constant conjunction. This causes our higher reasoning to be no more than that of the instincts and rational justification of animals.

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