Mary Shepherd on Causal Necessity

Mary Shepherd on Causal Necessity Abstract Lady Mary Shepherd’s critique of Hume’s account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which – that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities – anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The remaining premise – that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused – seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger anti-Humeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Metaphysica de Gruyter

Mary Shepherd on Causal Necessity

Metaphysica, Volume 17 (1) – Apr 1, 2016

Mary Shepherd on Causal Necessity


Lady Mary Shepherd's critique of Hume's account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which ­ that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities ­ anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The remaining premise ­ that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused ­ seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger antiHumeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like. Keywords: Mary Shepherd, Hume, causation, bundle view, causal view of properties, causal necessity, scientific essentialism The Scottish philosopher Lady Mary Shepherd (1777­1847) wrote two major works: Essays on the Perception of an External Universe (1827) and An Essay Upon the Relation of Cause and Effect (1824).1 The latter is my concern in this paper. Included in her explicitly stated goals for the book are the proofs of four anti-Humean claims: 1. "that reason, not fancy and "custom," leads us to the knowledge, That everything which begins to exist must have a Cause ..." 2. "that reason forces the mind to perceive, that similar causes must necessarily produce similar effects. ..." 1 For a brief discussion of Shepherd's life and her historical context, see (Atherton 1994, 147­49). For a more in depth treatment, see (McRobert 2014). *Corresponding author: Jeremy Fantl, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 2Z5, Canada,...
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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by the
ISSN
1437-2053
eISSN
1874-6373
DOI
10.1515/mp-2016-0007
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract Lady Mary Shepherd’s critique of Hume’s account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which – that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities – anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The remaining premise – that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused – seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger anti-Humeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like.

Journal

Metaphysicade Gruyter

Published: Apr 1, 2016

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