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Hume on the Perception of Causality

Hume on the Perception of Causality Introduction Few issues in philosophy have generated as much debate and as little agreement as Hume's controversial theory of causality. The theory itself has been notoriously difficult to pin down, and not surprisingly empirical evidence has played a very minor role in the issue of what is meant by 'cause'. This is not, however, due to the fact that empirical tests of the theory are hard to devise, but rather because such tests have usually been undertaken by experimental psychologists addressing slightly different issues and unaware of the philosophical implications of their work. However, recent signs of agreement on the overall nature of the theory (reviewed in Beauchamp and Rosenberg, chapter 1) allow a profitable integration of the theory with psychological research on the nature and importance of the perception of causal relations in conditioning. The significance of some of these experiments will be discussed later, and it will be argued that the factors Hume cited as being the essential determinants of causality, when complemented by the additional factor of the degree of contingency between the cause and the effect, correspond exactly with the factors known to affect conditioning; and therefore, that the laws of conditioning specify the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Hume on the Perception of Causality

Hume Studies , Volume 11 (1) – Jan 26, 1985

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Hume Society
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Copyright © Hume Society
ISSN
1947-9921
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Abstract

Introduction Few issues in philosophy have generated as much debate and as little agreement as Hume's controversial theory of causality. The theory itself has been notoriously difficult to pin down, and not surprisingly empirical evidence has played a very minor role in the issue of what is meant by 'cause'. This is not, however, due to the fact that empirical tests of the theory are hard to devise, but rather because such tests have usually been undertaken by experimental psychologists addressing slightly different issues and unaware of the philosophical implications of their work. However, recent signs of agreement on the overall nature of the theory (reviewed in Beauchamp and Rosenberg, chapter 1) allow a profitable integration of the theory with psychological research on the nature and importance of the perception of causal relations in conditioning. The significance of some of these experiments will be discussed later, and it will be argued that the factors Hume cited as being the essential determinants of causality, when complemented by the additional factor of the degree of contingency between the cause and the effect, correspond exactly with the factors known to affect conditioning; and therefore, that the laws of conditioning specify the

Journal

Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1985

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