What is Hume's Dictum, and why believe it?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595 - 637 (2010)
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Abstract

Hume's Dictum (HD) says, roughly and typically, that there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed, entities. HD plays an influential role in metaphysical debate, both in constructing theories and in assessing them. One should ask of such an influential thesis: why believe it? Proponents do not accept Hume's arguments for his dictum, nor do they provide their own; however, some have suggested either that HD is analytic or that it is synthetic a priori (that is: motivated by intuitions we have no good reason to question). Here I explore whether belief in HD is directly justified on either grounds. I motivate and present more formal characterizations of HD; I show that there are good prima facie cases to be made for HD's being analytic and for its being synthetic a priori; I argue that each of the prima facie cases fails, some things considered. I close by offering two suggestions for how belief in HD might be indirectly justified on argumentative grounds.

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Jessica M. Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough

Citations of this work

Grounding in the image of causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Metaphysical emergence: Weak and Strong.Jessica Wilson - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wüthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. pp. 251-306.
Fundamentality without Foundations.Michael J. Raven - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):607-626.
Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):e12662.

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References found in this work

Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
A treatise of human nature.David Hume & D. G. C. Macnabb (eds.) - 1977 - New York: Dutton.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Sydney Shoemaker.

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