Minding the Matter of Necessity: A Paradox Regarding Causation

Paul Russell

in Freedom and Moral Sentiment

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152906
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869343 | DOI:
 Minding the Matter of Necessity: A Paradox Regarding Causation

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Hume's views on the subject of free will rest on his specific interpretation of the nature of causation and necessity. In this chapter, I provide an interpretation of Hume's “two definitions” of causation. I argue that the two definitions of causation must be interpreted in terms of Hume's fundamental ontological distinction between perceptions and (material) objects. Central to Hume's position on this subject is the claim that, while there is a natural tendency to suppose that there exist (metaphysical) causal powers in objects themselves, this is a product of our failure to distinguish perceptions and objects. Properly understood, our idea of causation involves no suggestion that there is anything more to causation among objects themselves than constant conjunction.

Keywords: causal realism; causation; double existence; material object; necessity; ontology; perception; regularity

Chapter.  11182 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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