Hume's two definitions of causation have caused an extraordinary amount of controversy. The starting point for the controversy is the fact, well known to most philosophy undergraduates, that the two definitions aren't even extensionally equivalent, let alone semantically equivalent. So how can they both be definitions? One response to this problem has been to argue that Hume intends only the first as a genuine definition—an interpretation that delivers a straightforward regularity interpretation of Hume on causation. By many commentators' lights, however, (...) this is a bug rather than a feature: such an account of the two definitions leaves necessary connection out of Hume's story about the meaning of "cause" .. (shrink)
Free will sans metaphysics? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9525-5 Authors Helen Beebee, Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Many philosophers came to regard “causation” as an illegitimate pseudo-concept. This was a dominant view in analytic philosophy until quite late in the twentieth century. Russell famously quipped that “the law of causality” was “a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed to do no harm”.
The articles in this special issue of the yearbook Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy all concern, in one way or another, Hume’s epistemology and metaphysics. -/- There are discussions of our knowledge of causal powers, the extent to which conceivability is a guide to modality, and testimony; there are also discussions of our ideas of space and time, the role in Hume’s thought of the psychological mechanism of ‘completing the union’, the role of impressions, and Hume’s argument against the (...) claim that our perceptions are ‘locally conjoined’ with any entity (namely, a soul). (shrink)
Hume has traditionally been understood as an inductive sceptic with positivist tendencies, reducing causation to regular succession and anticipating the modern distinctions between analytic and synthetic, deduction and induction. The dominant fashion in recent Hume scholarship is to reject all this, replacing the ‘Old Hume’ with various New alternatives. Here I aim to counter four of these revisionist readings, presenting instead a broadly traditional interpretation but with important nuances, based especially on Hume’s later works. He asked that we should treat (...) these— notably the first Enquiry—as his authoritative philosophical statements, and with good reason. (shrink)
According to ‘regularity theories’ of causation, the obtaining of causal relations depends on no more than the obtaining of certain kinds of regularity. Regularity theorists are thus anti-realists about necessary connections in nature. Regularity theories of one form or another have constituted the dominant view in analytic Philosophy for a long time, but have recently come in for some robust criticism, notably from Galen Strawson. Strawson’s criticisms are natural criticisms to make, but have not so far provoked much response from (...) regularity theorists. The paper considers and rebuts Strawson’s objections. For example, Strawson claims that if there were no necessary connections in nature, we ought continually to find the regularity of the Universe surprising. I argue that the fact that the Universe is regular is something we take ourselves (fallibly) to know, and hence, in the light of this knowledge, its continued orderliness is not at all surprising. -/- . (shrink)
Causation is one of the most important and enduring topics in philosophy, going back to Aristotle. In this important book, Helen Beebee covers all the major debates and issues in the philosophy of causation. Beginning with an introduction to the concept, Causation examines the most important philosopher of causation, David Hume, and assesses the problems of induction and necessary connection in light of Hume's thought. Beebee then investigates different theories of causation and challenges to the Humane approach. She considers the (...) concepts of regularity, causal experience, necessity, and essences. Throughout the book, she examines and critically discusses other important philosophers on causation, including JL Mackie, John Wright, and Brian Ellis. (shrink)
Singularists about causation often claim that we can have experiences as of causation. This paper argues that regularity theorists need not deny that claim; hence the possibility of causal experience is no objection to regularity theories of causation. The fact that, according to a regularity theorist, causal experience requires background theory does not provide grounds for denying that it is genuine experience. The regularity theorist need not even deny that non-inferential perceptual knowledge of causation is possible, despite the fact that (...) such knowledge would sometimes allow us to make inferences about what happens in far-off places and times. (shrink)
Humean compatibilism is the combination of a Humean position on laws of nature and the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. This article's aim is to situate Humean compatibilism in the current debate among libertarians, traditional compatibilists, and semicompatibilists about free will. We argue that a Humean about laws can hold that there is a sense in which the laws of nature are 'up to us' and hence that the leading style of argument for incompatibilism?the consequence argument?has a (...) false premiss. We also display some striking similarities between Humean compatibilism and libertarianism, an incompatibilist view. For example, standard libertarians face a problem about luck, and we show that Humean compatibilists face a very similar problem. (shrink)