Why Be Humean?

Tim Maudlin

in The Metaphysics Within Physics

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780199218219
Published online May 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191711596 | DOI:
 Why Be Humean?

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In some contemporary metaphysics theories, there is an explicit preference or desire, or in some cases demand, for‘Humean’ theories. Humean, or ‘empiricist’ theories of law and of chance are sought; theories that posit irreducible nomic, modal, dispositional, or causal facts are dismissed as un-Humean. David Lewis has characterized a central motivation for some of his theories as a desire to ‘uphold not so much the truth of Humean supervenience but the tenability of it’, a somewhat modest but still mysterious ambition. Why, to put it bluntly, should one want to be Humean? What is the appeal of ‘Humean Supervenience’ such that metaphysical accounts should aspire to it? Although Lewis and others issue calls to rally to Hume's banner, no strategic justification for this campaign is offered. The reason for this reticence is that the motivations will not withstand close scrutiny in the light of day. The aim of this essay is to unshutter the windows.

Keywords: quantum theory; separability; David Lewis; physical statism

Chapter.  12738 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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