2.45 Hume

Category: History of Philosophy

Keywords: hume, sceptic, scepticism, enquiry, coherence, sceptical, treatise, circularity, impressions, credibility, circular, impression, coherent, uniformity, sentiments

Number of Articles: 196
Percentage of Total: 0.6%
Rank: 78th

Weighted Number of Articles: 165.3
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 86th

Mean Publication Year: 1977.6
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1975.3
Median Publication Year: 1982
Modal Publication Year: 1959

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0503)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Justification (0.0163)
Topic with Least Overlap: Space and Time (0.00025)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Abortion and Self-Defence (0.00019)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the Humetopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1905 when 1.5% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1887 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.45 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.108: Hume.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Humetopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.5%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.6%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 0.6%. Analysis - 0.4%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.1%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.4%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.6%. Philosophy of Science - 0.1%. Noûs - 0.6%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.6%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.4%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1976 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.4% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1887 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.109: Hume articles in each journal.

Table 2.97: Characteristic articles of the Hume topic.
Table 2.98: Highly cited articles in the Hume topic.


This topic is a bit of a surprise in a couple of respects.

First, it is a history topic on a single pretwentieth century figure who is not Kant. When I built a bunch of sixty topic models, almost all of them had a Kant topic, and almost none of them had a topic on any other single figure. Occasionally they would get two such topics by splitting Plato and Aristotle, but that was uncommon. But here we get a topic on Hume. That’s unusual.

Second, the model decided it really really wanted to put work on coherence measures in here and not in with any of the other topics on logic or probability. I have no idea why it wanted to do this. Indeed, one of my motivations for bumping up the number of topics, and on running extra refinements on the model, was to give the model a chance to see the error of its ways. And it worked a little - there are many fewer formal epistemology articles in here than there originally were. But as you can see from the highly cited list, there are still some. This feels just like a bug, but I ran out of tools to squash it with.

There isn’t a drop in this topic after World War II as there is with other topics in early modern philosophy. This is, I suspect, because Hume wasn’t that big a topic before the war. It wasn’t that there was no work on Hume. Keynes and Sraffa, for example, published their important argument that Hume was the author of the Abstract in 1938 (Hume 1938). But while it was reviewed in various journals, it didn’t get much sustained attention in the philosophy journals until much more recently.

A scatterplot, with trendlines, of the topics early modern, social contract theory, Kant, and Hume. In the early years, Hume is the smallest by a long way. But the other three fall a lot, and Hume gently rises, so that in recent years social contract is by far the smallest, and the other three are similar in size.

Figure 2.110: Weighted frequency of articles in four topics in early modern philosophy.

One can see from this graph of the four early modern topics that Hume is the only one that really rises. The generic early modern topic maybe edges up a bit from the start to 1920, but there is a lot of noise. And social contract theory has a Rawls-inspired arrest of its fall. But otherwise the other three are either steady or falling, while Hume sees a mild rise.

Note that I’ve cut off this graph at 3 percent to make it clearer. There are a few points not in Hume) that are not shown. But these points are taken into account in building the trendlines.