Quasi-Realism and Inductive Scepticism in Hume’s Theory of Causation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):637-650 (2019)
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Interpreters of Hume on causation consider that an advantage of the ‘quasi-realist’ reading is that it does not commit him to scepticism or to an error theory about causal reasoning. It is unique to quasi-realism that it maintains this positive epistemic result together with a rejection of metaphysical realism about causation: the quasi-realist supplies an appropriate semantic theory in order to justify the practice of talking ‘as if’ there were causal powers in the world. In this paper, I problematise the quasi-realist reading of Hume on causation by showing how quasi-realism does not speak to inductive scepticism. I also offer evidence that Hume takes inductive scepticism to result from his theory of causation, and that his scepticism is tied to his rejection of metaphysical causal realism.

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Dominic K. Dimech
University of Sydney


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