Perceiving Causes

Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum

in Getting Causes from Powers

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695614
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731952 | DOI:
Perceiving Causes

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Hume argued that we had no idea of power because there was no original experience from which an impression had come. This chapter takes on Hume’s challenge and, in an eclectic tradition developed through Locke, Heidegger and Armstrong, the chapter argues that we have direct awareness of causation, and the dispositional modality it involves, in agency. We are both causal agents and patients through our embodiment. There are reasons why Humeans have been able to resist this argument. One is the assumption that cause and effect are temporally separated, which we have already rejected, and the other is a faulty account of willing or volition that follows form this. This allows Humeans to claim that in our experience we at best would know a constant conjunction between willing and act. But this is both psychologically and philosophically implausible. Instead the chapter offers an integrated account of agency in which acting is possible only if cause and effect are found in one and the same proprioceptive experience, complete with appropriate feedback mechanisms. As well as giving us direct experience of causation, the chapter claims that this also reveals is dispositional nature. In one and the same experience, we can feel that towards which an action tends but also that it can be prevented.

Keywords: Hume; perception; agency; dispositional modality; proprioception; Heidegger; volition

Chapter.  8378 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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