David Hume and Causation

David Hume and Causation The New Hume Debate and What it Means By Brady Hagan Concept of Causation Aristotelian model of four causes puts ball into play, 300s BC Aristotle prominent in both Europe and Middle East for centuries Scientific revolution changes focus solely to efficient causation,

or mechanical interaction between objects, as priority Once satisfied with efficient cause explanation, no other type concerns you as much Common definitions of causation: That in the absence of which something else would not take place. An event or object or condition

necessary for something else (the effect) to be the case, for something else to be brought about. The initiative, to the end. David Hume, the man. British Empiricist Radical skeptic, empiricist, naturalist

Contemporary of Locke, Berkeley, Bacon, Hobbes Major Contributions: Relation of Ideas Problem of Induction and Problem of Causation Enlightenment

Francis Bacon develops lasting scientific method Isaac Newton coins three laws of physics, calculus, improves telescope Empiricism believed to be main source of knowledge. Turned away from Aristotelian

model, scholasticism, rationalism Locke considered founder of empiricism tabula rasa Hume as an Empiricist Valued inductive reasoning, as an empiricist Enjoyed Scientific Method

Took after Locke, with empiricism to an extreme Simultaneously critical of Inductive Reasoning, though he saw value in it Problem of Induction Only valid statements about reality were those concerning human experience through senses Hume Moves Away from Reason Hume was a strict empiricist T.1.3.14

First, That reason alone can never give rise to any original idea, and secondly, that reason, as distinguished from experience, can never make us conclude, that a cause or productive quality is absolutely requisite to every beginning of existence. Humes Theories Empiricism and the senses Mental Activity

Impressions/Ideas Caused by sensory perception of the world Association of ideas Humes Essential Argument about the Nature of Causation 1. Before philosophizing, we think of causality as applying when one event happens and brings another about. 2. When you observe one event 'causing' another you never perceive any 'necessary connection' linking the two.

3. (2) means you don't derive the idea of 'necessary connection' from sense. (4. You don't get it either from introspection.) 5. So on empiricist principles, there is no idea of 'necessary connection'. 6. What generates then the illusion (see (1)) that we have such an idea? 7. We form a mental habit on the basis of constant conjunctions and project this onto the world. (articulated by http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/) Debate Old Hume: Hume believes both that we cannot know the nature of causation, and he does not believe in necessary causation itself. New Hume: Hume makes it clear enough that he believes in causation in

some sort of notion, but in epistemological terms cannot justify it rationally. Both agree that Hume holds belief in causation to be epistemologically unjustifiable. Standard View (Causal Reductionism/ Skepticism) Hume held a regularity theory of causation Contiguity does not suggest causal power

Hume saw causality as a purely mental facility Causation is nothing beyond constant conjunction Debate within over use of Humes two definitions of cause in the Treatise Humes word should be taken to be equivalent to Humes personal beliefs Definitions Given in Treatise

(D1) An object precedent and contiguous to another, and where all the objects resembling the former are placed in like relations of precedency and contiguity to those objects that resemble the latter. (D2) An object precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it, that the idea of the one determined the mind to form the idea of the other, and the impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other. (T 1.3.14.31; SBN 170) New Debate

Norman Kemp Smith asserts New Hume analysis of Humes works Asserts Hume is a causal realist Galen Strawson asserts there is no ground for Standard View Standard View stands ground against charges, Peter Millican likely most famous Old Humean today

New Hume Arguments Distinction Between E and O Humes theory of causation is only about E, not O. (Strawson 1989:10) What we can know and what is the case Natural Belief- causation is a natural belief of Humes

Belief in causal action is, Hume argues, equally natural and indispensable; and he freely recognizes the existence of secret causes, acting independently of experience. (Kemp Smith 2005: 88) Uncharacteristic of Hume in any of his works to make grand metaphysical statements about the essence of something in nature. Distinction between two statements O ontological statement about causation To make a statement about the nature of causation in reality. E epistemological statement about causation

To make a statement about what we can know or, specifically from an empiricist perspective, what we can observe. For what purpose was Hume writing for? So what? Misrepresentation of ideas or beliefs can constitute potential intellectual dishonesty/libel. This was a distinct concern of Humes that the word of his original work was taken into account more than his later. +Duty of those who read science or philosophy to represent ideas as clearly and truly as possible, as close to the intent of the author as possible.

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