Causation as a Philosophical Relation in Hume



By giving the proper emphasis to both radical skepticism and naturalism as two independent standpoints in Hume, I wish to propose a more satisfactory account of some of the more puzzling Humean claims on causation. I place these claims alternatively in either the philosophical standpoint of the radical skeptic or in the standpoint of everyday and scientific beliefs. I characterize Hume's radical skeptical standpoint in relation to Hume's perceptual model of the traditional theory of ideas, and I argue that Hume's radical skeptical argument concerning our causal inferences is inextricably linked to his skeptical argument concerning our idea of a necessary connection between cause and effect. I discuss Hume's naturalistic account of the origin of our idea of necessity and offer a new reading of Hume's two “definitions” of cause. I argue along the way against central aspects of two opposing styles of interpretation—Norman Kemp Smith's and Annette Baier's, on the one hand, and Robert Fogelin's, on the other—that in my view do not appreciate the mutual autonomy of radical skepticism and naturalism in Hume.