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Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia

Print version ISSN 0100-512X


MARQUES, José Oscar de Almeida. Regularity and counterfactuality in Hume's treatment of causation. Kriterion [online]. 2011, vol.52, n.124, pp.355-364. ISSN 0100-512X.

Of the several theories of causation current in our days, Hume is said to be the inspiration of two of the most influential and accepted: the regularity theory, first clearly formulated by Thomas Brown in 1822, and the counterfactual theory, proposed by David Lewis in 1973. After a brief outline of the comparative merits and difficulties of these two views, I proceed to examine whether Hume's own treatment of causation actually corresponds to any of them. I will show that his first definition of cause, coupled with his rules by which to judge about causes and effects, contains elements that, properly developed, allow us to address successfully some traditional difficulties of the regularity view of causation, without resorting to the conceptual resources employed in the counterfactual approach. Therefore, we can properly classify Hume as an advocate of the conception of causation as regularity, noting however that his primary goal in his research and definitions of the concept was to provide not so much an analysis of causation as such, but of causation as we apprehend it, in the form of our ability to make causal inferences and refine them to reach the more sophisticated causal reasonings that are required in the theoretical and practical issues of life.

Keywords : Causality; Regularity theory of causation; Counterfactuality.

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