The New Hume Debate

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We are still relying on previous impressions to predict the effect and therefore do not violate the Copy Principle. We simply use resemblance to form an analogous prediction. And we can charitably make such resemblances as broad as we want. Thus, objections like: U nder a Humean account, the toddler who burned his hand would not fear the flame after only one such occurrence because he has not experienced a constant conjunction , are unfair to Hume, as the toddler would have had thousands of experiences of the principle that like causes like, and could thus employ resemblance to reach the conclusion to fear the flame.

If Hume is right that our awareness of causation or power, force, efficacy, necessity, and so forth - he holds all such terms to be equivalent is a product of experience, we must ask what this awareness consists in. What is meant when some event is judged as cause and effect? Strictly speaking, for Hume, our only external impression of causation is a mere constant conjunction of phenomena, that B always follows A, and Hume sometimes seems to imply that this is all that causation amounts to.

And this notion of causation as constant conjunction is required for Hume to generate the Problem of induction discussed below. Hume points out that this second component of causation is far from clear. What is this necessity that is implied by causation? Clearly it is not a logical modality, as there are possible worlds in which the standard laws of causation do not obtain.

The New Hume Debate

It might be tempting to state that the necessity involved in causation is therefore a physical or metaphysical necessity. However, Hume considers such elucidations unhelpful, as they tell us nothing about the original impressions involved. At best, they merely amount to the assertion that causation follows causal laws.


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But invoking this common type of necessity is trivial or circular when it is this very efficacy that Hume is attempting to discover. We must therefore follow a different route in considering what our impression of necessity amounts to.

Hume’s Newtonianism and Anti-Newtonianism

As causation, at base, involves only matters of fact, Hume once again challenges us to consider what we can know of the constituent impressions of causation. Once more, all we can come up with is an experienced constant conjunction. Of the common understanding of causality, Hume points out that we never have an impression of efficacy. Because of this, our notion of causal law seems to be a mere presentiment that the constant conjunction will continue to be constant, some certainty that this mysterious union will persist. Hume argues that we cannot conceive of any other connection between cause and effect, because there simply is no other impression to which our idea may be traced.

This certitude is all that remains. For Hume, the necessary connection invoked by causation is nothing more than this certainty. Instead, the impression of efficacy is one produced in the mind. Ergo, the idea of necessity that supplements constant conjunction is a psychological projection. We cannot help but think that the event will unfurl in this way.

He gives similar but not identical definitions in the Enquiry. There are reams of literature addressing whether these two definitions are the same and, if not, to which of them Hume gives primacy. Robinson is perhaps the staunchest proponent of the position that the two are nonequivalent, arguing that there is an nonequivalence in meaning and that they fail to capture the same extension. Two objects can be constantly conjoined without our mind determining that one causes the other, and it seems possible that we can be determined that one object causes another without their being constantly conjoined.

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But if the definitions fail in this way, then it is problematic that Hume maintains that both are adequate definitions of causation. Some scholars have argued for ways of squaring the two definitions Don Garrett, for instance, argues that the two are equivalent if they are both read objectively or both read subjectively , while others have given reason to think that seeking to fit or eliminate definitions may be a misguided project.

One alternative to fitting the definitions lies in the possibility that they are doing two separate things, and it might therefore be inappropriate to reduce one to the other or claim that one is more significant than the other. There are several interpretations that allow us to meaningfully maintain the distinction and therefore the nonequivalence between the two definitions unproblematically. For instance, D1 can be seen as tracing the external impressions that is, the constant conjunction requisite for our idea of causation while D2 traces the internal impressions, both of which are important to Hume in providing a complete account.

Another method is to cash out the two definitions in terms of the types of relation. Walter Ott argues that, if this is right, then the lack of equivalence is not a problem, as philosophical and natural relations would not be expected to capture the same extension.

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If the definitions were meant to separately track the philosophical and natural relations, we might expect Hume to have explained that distinction in the Enquiry rather than dropping it while still maintaining two definitions. Bennett Though this treatment of literature considering the definitions as meaningfully nonequivalent has been brief, it does serve to show that the definitions need not be forced together. In fact, later in the Treatise , Hume states that necessity is defined by both, either as the constant conjunction or as the mental inference, that they are two different senses of necessity, and Hume, at various points, identifies both as the essence of connection or power.

Whether or not Robinson is right in thinking Hume is mistaken in holding this position, Hume himself does not seem to believe one definition is superior to the other, or that they are nonequivalent. Attempting to establish primacy between the definitions implies that they are somehow the bottom line for Hume on causation. But Hume is at pains to point out that the definitions are inadequate.

And what stronger instance can be produced of the surprizing ignorance and weakness of the understanding than [the analysis of causation]? But though both these definitions be drawn from circumstances foreign to cause, we cannot remedy this inconvenience, or attain any more perfect definition….

EHU 7. The tone this passage conveys is one of resigned dissatisfaction. Although Hume does the best that can be expected on the subject, he is dissatisfied, but this dissatisfaction is inevitable. This is because, as Hume maintains in Part VII of the Enquiry , a definiens is nothing but an enumeration of the constituent simple ideas in the definiendum.

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It is an inconvenience that they appeal to something foreign, something we should like to remedy. Unfortunately, such a remedy is impossible, so the definitions, while as precise as they can be, still leave us wanting something further. But if this is right, then Hume should be able to endorse both D1 and D2 as vital components of causation without implying that he endorses either or both as necessary and sufficient for causation.

Though Hume gives a quick version of the Problem in the middle of his discussion of causation in the Treatise T 1. It should be noted, however, that not everyone agrees about what exactly the Problem consists in. Briefly, the typified version of the Problem as arguing for inductive skepticism can be described as follows:. Recall that proper reasoning involves only relations of ideas and matters of fact. Again, the key differentia distinguishing the two categories of knowledge is that asserting the negation of a true relation of ideas is to assert a contradiction, but this is not the case with genuine matters of fact.

But in Section IV, Hume only pursues the justification for matters of fact, of which there are two categories:.

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For Hume, B would include both predictions and the laws of nature upon which predictions rest. We cannot claim direct experience of predictions or of general laws, but knowledge of them must still be classified as matters of fact, since both they and their negations remain conceivable. In considering the foundations for predictions, however, we must remember that, for Hume, only the relation of cause and effect gives us predictive power, as it alone allows us to go beyond memory and the senses.

All such predictions must therefore involve causality and must therefore be of category B. But what justifies them? Since the Problem of Induction demands that causal connections cannot be known a priori , and that our access is only to constant conjunction, the Problem seems to require the most crucial components of his account of necessity.

It is therefore not entirely clear how Hume views the relationship between his account of necessity and the Problem. This is to say that B is grounded in A. But again, A by itself gives us no predictive power. The answer to this question seems to be inductive reasoning. We use direct observation to draw conclusions about unobserved states of affairs. But this is just to once more assert that B is grounded in A. The more interesting question therefore becomes how we do this.

What lets us reason from A to B?


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The only apparent answer is the assumption of some version of the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature PUN , the doctrine that nature is always uniform, so unobserved instances of phenomena will resemble the observed. This is called an assumption since we have not, as yet, established that we are justified in holding such a principle.

Once more, it cannot be known a priori , as we assert no contradiction by maintaining its falsity.

smk23.ru/modules A sporadic, random universe is perfectly conceivable.