Hume on Causation, Negatively

Jonathan Bennett

in Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198250920
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597060 | DOI:

Series: Learning from Six Philosophers (2 Volumes)

 Hume on Causation, Negatively

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Hume argues that we have no idea of a necessitating tie between any pair of events, and no basis for conjecturing—as Locke did—that such a tie exists. In the course of discussing this, he says he will ‘beat about the neighbouring fields’ and discuss the question of what is going on when we infer effects from causes, and the question of why we think it necessary that every event has a cause. The former question is directly linked to his own positive views on causation; the latter is not. Hume argues that there is no real causal necessity from the premise (shared with Descartes) that no state of the world absolutely necessitates any subsequent state. His reasons for tying causal necessity to absolute necessity are explained and defended.

Keywords: causation; Descartes; Hume; Locke; necessity

Chapter.  12018 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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