Chapter

Kant and Hume on Simultaneity of Causes and Effects

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019507162X.003.0008
Kant and Hume on Simultaneity of Causes and Effects

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In the Treatise of Human Nature Hume argued – actually quite badly – that a cause must be prior to its effect. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant cites what seems to be a clear example of a cause being simultaneous with its effect: a ball impressing a hollow on a cushion. This raises a problem for Hume's account of causality, for, if we grant, agreeing with Kant, that causes are sometimes simultaneous with their effect, how, on Hume's “regularity” account of causality, can we distinguish causes from effects. The solution suggested here is that the direction of causality is not fixed by physical facts but, in part at least, by what we are doing or how we view things. Whether this is right or not, it seems to be a solution that conforms to a Humean account of causality.

Keywords: causation; causes; effects; Hume; Kant; regularity; simultaneity

Chapter.  4575 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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