Don Garrett

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191727474 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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One of Hume's prime methodological principles is this: where philosophical confusion reigns, cognitive psychology may help to bring resolution. This article tries to approach the question of his theory of causation through two questions of Humean cognitive psychology. First, what is his theory of causal inference, particularly as it concerns necessity? Second, what is his theory of causal judgement, particularly as it concerns the deployment of concepts? The answers to these questions, it is argued, reveal that Hume has a reasonably sophisticated ‘causal sense’ theory of causal psychology that allows him to concede something to each of the following: projectivism, reductionism, and realism. He can do this without falling into a simple version of any of these epistemological/semantic/metaphysical packages.

Keywords: Hume; cognitive philosophy; theory of causation; causal inference; causal judgement; causal sense; causal psychology

Article.  8910 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; History of Western Philosophy

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