Humeans are out of this world

Synthese 198 (6):5897-5916 (2021)
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Abstract

I defend the following argument in this paper. Premise 1: Laws of nature are intrinsic to the universe. Premise 2: Humeanism maintains that laws of nature are extrinsic to the universe. Conclusion: Humeanism is false. This argument is inspired by John Hawthorne’s (2004) argument in “Why Humeans are out of their Minds”. My argument differs from his; Hawthorne focuses on Humean views of causation and how they interact with judgments about consciousness. He thinks Humeans are forced to treat certain mental properties (insofar as they involve causal features) as extrinsic to conscious minds. I do not discuss causation or consciousness here. I focus on Humean accounts of laws. I argue that Humean laws are extrinsic to the entire universe. As such, Humeans are not just out of their minds; they are out of this world. I aim to show that premises 1 and 2 are well-supported and that denying either of them comes at a cost. Nevertheless, Humeans may prefer to reject 1 or 2 rather than give up Humeanism. Even if the Humean takes one of these routes, the argument above has philosophical import: it shows that Humeanism involves surprising commitments.

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Erica Shumener
Syracuse University

Citations of this work

The Nomic Likelihood Account of Laws.Meacham Christopher - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Non-Piecemeal Pluralism.Elizabeth Miller - 2021 - The Monist 104 (1):91-107.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

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