|About the Book|
David Hume argues that we can never know a priori that events of one type cause events of another type- causal beliefs depend upon experience of regularly conjoined events. Many commentators have taken this to entail that explanation, for Hume,MoreDavid Hume argues that we can never know a priori that events of one type cause events of another type- causal beliefs depend upon experience of regularly conjoined events. Many commentators have taken this to entail that explanation, for Hume, consists merely in cataloguing regularly correlated types of events. However, Humes actual explanations of the workings of the human mind are incompatible with this interpretation: they include appeals to dispositional notions like custom and habit, hidden causes, and the explanatory power of analogies. I argue that Hume does not treat empirical observation of regularly conjoined events as either necessary or sufficient for explaining the occurrence of such events. Humes methodology is driven by two distinct explanatory aims: The first is to identify the causes of the explananda- the second is to offer explanations that unify and systematize our beliefs.-This interpretation is then applied in an examination of Humes explanation of belief. This examination has four parts. First, I consider the historical influences on Humes account of belief. Second, I consider the nature of perceptions, which comprise the explanatory basis for much of Humes Science of Man. I argue that Hume treats belief as a lively idea, or an occurrent mental state with a characteristic phenomenology. Third, I consider Humes account of how believing influences us. I argue that Hume holds that beliefs have a causal influence on us, and I argue that this helps explain why he holds that a belief is an occurrent mental state. Fourth, I consider Humes claim that causal beliefs are caused by custom, and I argue that there is a phenomenological sense of custom that is the immediate cause of our forming beliefs about the unobserved.