Hume on the projection of causal necessity

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A characteristically Humean pattern of explanation starts by claiming that we have a certain kind of feeling in response to some objects and then takes our having such feelings to provide an explanation of how we come to think of those objects as having some feature that we would not otherwise be able to think of them as having. This core pattern of explanation is what leads Simon Blackburn to dub Hume ‘the first great projectivist.’ This paper critically examines the philosophical and textual basis for interpreting Hume as a causal projectivist. I argue that projectivist interpretations of Hume’s account of causation are motivated by two convictions: that beliefs about causation, according to Hume, are not just beliefs about regularity relations and that believing that two events are necessarily connected, according to Hume, is not merely having a belief about something that occurs in one’s mind. I suggest that the latter conviction is worth revisiting, both for textual and philosophical reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-273
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2014


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