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Hume's Approach to Causation

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Title Hume's Approach to Causation
Creator O'Donnell, Matthew
Subject Philosophy
Description DAVID HUME has described his theory of causation as the 'chief argument' of his Treatise of Human Nature. The broad lines of
that argument are well known, and need not be detailed here.
Hume's conclusion is that causation is not a ' power ' in the cause
but a ' felt compulsion ' in the mind- an expectation that a certain
event will be followed by a certain other event of the type habitually
associated with the first in our experience. Both events are perceptions;
the first is an impression, the second a believed idea: and
causation is the association of the two. Furthermore, Hume not
only expresses his notion of causation in terms of the theory of
impressions and ideas; he also argues to it by means of this theory.
I take the liberty of making these assertions without argument in
the belief that they will be generally accepted: but I should like to
argue the following propositions:
I. that the theory of impressions and ideas, which Hume
utilises in his later discussion of causation, is based on that precise
theory of causation which the later discussion is designed to refute.
II. that Hume's discussion of association makes appeal to a
variety of causal theories.
We shall consider these in turn.
Publisher The Philosophical Society at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth
Date 1960
Type Article
Format application/pdf
O'Donnell, Matthew (1960) Hume's Approach to Causation. Philosophical Studies, 10 . pp. 64-99. ISSN 0554-0739