Hume Studies 39 (2):203-231 (2013)

Authors
Miren Boehm
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Abstract
What is the source of normativity in Hume’s account of causal reasoning? In virtue of what are causal beliefs justified for Hume? To answer these questions, the literature appeals, almost invariably, to custom or some feature thereof. I argue, in contrast, that causal beliefs are justified for Hume because they issue from experience. Although he denies experience the title of justifying reason, for Hume experience has normative authority. I offer an interpretation of the source and nature of the normativity of experience in causal reasoning. I argue that the senses and memory have a special, positive status within the mind in virtue of their force and vivacity, which, on my reading, Hume identifies with a sense of presentness and a strong effect on the mind. Hume dignifies the system of memory and the senses with the title of reality because of these features. Causal beliefs are dignified as “realities” because they issue from reality. However, because the imagination can sometimes enhance the force and vivacity of ideas without the help of experience, Hume appeals to coherence and general rules as well.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0319-7336
DOI 10.1353/hms.2014.0001
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