Causation and Intelligibility

Philosophy 69 (267):55 - 67 (1994)
Abstract
Hume, in "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", holds (1) that all causal reasoning is based on experience and (2) that causal reasoning is based on nothing but experience. (1) does not imply (2), and Hume's good reasons for (1) are not good reasons for (2). This essay accepts (1) and argues against (2). A priori reasoning plays a role in causal inference. Familiar examples from Hume and from classroom examples of sudden disappearances and radical changes do not show otherwise. A priori causal reasoning is closely related to understanding causal mechanisms. One uncovers the intelligibility of a causal process by understanding its mechanism.
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