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Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy$
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Walter Ott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570430.001.0001

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(p.219) 25 Necessity
Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy

Walter Ott (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Among Hume's most famous arguments, we find his own version of Malebranche's “no necessary connection” argument: roughly, if x had the power to produce y, it should be impossible to conceive of x without y. But since it is always possible to do this, there cannot be any real (mind‐independent) causal connections. This chapter shows how the argument comes into focus only when seen as an episode in the larger argument from nonsense. Although the conception of causation as logical necessitation, which forms the target of Hume's argument, has its source in the scholastics, it lives on in the cognitive and geometrical models. The chapter shows just how Hume's argument applies to these models and points toward Hume's own subjective account of necessity as the felt determination of the mind to form one perception on the basis of another.

Keywords:   logical necessitation, conceivability argument, Malebranche, Hume

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