Causation as a philosophical relation in Hume

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (3):499-545 (2002)
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Abstract

By giving the proper emphasis to both radical skepticism and naturalism as two independent standpoints in Hume, I wish to propose a more satisfactory account of some of the more puzzling Humean claims on causation. I place these claims alternatively in either the philosophical standpoint of the radical skeptic or in the standpoint of everyday and scientific beliefs. I characterize Hume’s radical skeptical standpoint in relation to Hume’s perceptual model of the traditional theory of ideas, and I argue that Hume‘s radical skeptical argument concerning our causal inferences is inextricably linked to his skeptical argument concerning our idea of a necessary connection between cause and effect. I discuss Hume’s naturalistic account of the origin of our idea of necessity and offer a new reading of Hume’s two “definitions” of cause. I argue along the way against central aspects of two opposing styles of interpretation---Norman Kemp Smith’s and Annette Baier’s, on the one hand, and Robert Fogelin’s, on the other---that in my view do not appreciate the mutual autonomy of radical skepticism and naturalism in Hume

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