THE RELATION BETWEEN THE GENERAL MAXIM OF CAUSALITY AND THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIFORMITY IN HUME’S THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
Palavras-chave:Hume. Causality. Regularity. Principle of uniformity.
When Hume, in the Treatise on Human Nature, began his examination of the relation of cause and effect, in particular, of the idea of necessary connection which is its essential constituent, he identified two preliminary questions that should guide his research: (1) For what reason we pronounce it necessary that every thing whose existence has a beginning should also have a cause and (2) Why we conclude that such particular causes must necessarily have such particular effects? (1.3.2, 14-15) Hume observes that our belief in these principles can result neither from an intuitive grasp of their truth nor from a reasoning that could establish them by demonstrative means. In particular, with respect to the first, Hume examines and rejects some arguments with which Locke, Hobbes and Clarke tried to demonstrate it, and suggests, by exclusion, that the belief that we place on it can only come from experience. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Hume does not proceed to show how that derivation of experience could be made, but proposes instead to move directly to an examination of the second principle, saying that, “perhaps, be found in the end, that the same answer will serve for both questions” (1.3.3, 9). Hume's answer to the second question is well known, but the first question is never answered in the rest of the Treatise, and it is even doubtful that it could be, which would explain why Hume has simply chosen to remove any mention of it when he recompiled his theses on causation in the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. Given this situation, an interesting question that naturally arises is to investigate the relations of logical or conceptual implication between these two principles. Hume seems to have thought that an answer to (2) would also be sufficient to provide an answer to (1). Henry Allison, in his turn, argued (in Custom and Reason in Hume, p. 94-97) that the two questions are logically independent. My proposal here is to try to show that there is indeed a logical dependency between them, but the implication is, rather, from (1) to (2). If accepted, this result may be particularly interesting for an interpretation of the scope of the so-called “Kant's reply to Hume” in the Second Analogy of Experience, which is structured as a proof of the a priori character of (1), but whose implications for (2) remain controversial.
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