Why Humean Causation Is Extrinsic

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):139-148 (2019)
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According to a view that goes by “Humeanism,” causal facts supervene on patterns of worldly entities. The simplest form of Humeanism is the constant conjunction theory: a particular type-F thing causes a particular type-G thing iff (i) that type-Fis conjoined with that type-G thing and (ii) all F’s are conjoined with G’s. The constant conjunction theory implies that all causation is extrinsic, in the following sense: for all positive causal facts pertaining to each possible region,it’s extrinsic to that region that those causal facts pertain to it. Actual Humeans don’t accept the constant conjunction theory; they accept more sophisticated versions of Humeanism. But I argue that they, too, are committed to the thesis that all causation is extrinsic. In arguing for this claim,I use a discussion from Brian Weatherson as a springboard. Weatherson argues that on a plausible Humean view, some regions are such that all of their possible duplicates have the same or similar natural laws. I show that this is false. If Humeanism is true, then for every possible region, there are possible duplicates of that region with utterly alien natural laws. As a consequence, no causal facts pertain intrinsically to any region.

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Daniel Pallies
Lingnan University

Citations of this work

Humeans are out of this world.Erica Shumener - 2021 - Synthese 198 (6):5897-5916.
Why I'm not a Humean.Toby Friend - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (online access):1-23.

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References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Causation as influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
On The Plurality of Worlds.Graeme Forbes - 1988 - Philosophical Quarterly 38 (151):222-240.
Trumping Preemption.Jonathan Schaffer - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):165.

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