Nov. 14, 2013
Anti-rationalist: no beliefs justified if not by experience, so no justified a priori beliefs
Classic rationalist example of justified a priori belief: ‘general maxim in philosophy:’
whatever begins to exist must have a cause of existence
Two sides to Hume: naturalist (psychologist) and normative empiricist
2. Hume’s psychology, or “association of ideas:” Among all the relations that hold between
things in the world there are three “natural relations” to which our minds are naturally attuned:
resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and causation.
These “natural relations,” along with original impressions and ideas that are faint copies of
them, determine all our thoughts: “I believe it will not be very necessary to prove, that these
qualities produce an association among ideas, and upon the appearance of one idea naturally
introduce another. ‘Tis plain, that in the course of our thinking, and in the constant revolution
of our ideas, our imagination runs easily from one idea to any other that resembles it…”
3. Necessary connection: The evidence for a causal inference consists in observations of similar
pairs of events. We do not directly observe causation; we do not have a direct impression of
external necessary connection.
The pairs of events must be constantly conjoined, and in each pair the cause-event must be
contiguous in time and space with (and prior to) the effect-event.
4. Observations of constantly conjoined similar pairs of events produce in the observer an
association between the idea of the first event and the idea of the second event. Thus, a causal
sequence in the mind is produced by and runs parallel to a causal sequence external to the
5. Contrasting views