Re: Hume

From: Ian Wright (ian_paul_wright@HOTMAIL.COM)
Date: Tue Nov 25 2003 - 14:54:37 EST

Hello Andy,

Sorry for the delayed reponse. Also suffering from a cold
so I'm feeling more stupid than normal.

I am listening to your logical points, particularly about
my use of the phrase "positive evidence".

Howard Engelskirchen wrote something that I think is
relevant and interesting:
>Harre and Madden in Causal Powers (1975) also provide an important critique
>of Hume. They show that Hume's argument depends on conflating logical
>necessity -- something true in all possible worlds -- with natural
>necessity -- a relation that holds between a generative structure and its
>effects that can only be discovered a posteriori.  The fact that it is
>logically possible for nature to change its course and for a stick of
>dynamite to turn into a stone doesn't say anything to the point about
>whether, given dynamite of the proper composition and structure, a stick of
>dynamite will explode when detonated.  It is self contradictory to say that
>the nature of dynamite is such that it both does and does not explain its
>power to explode.

This point I think I understand. And perhaps we have complicated
matters by not sufficiently distinguishing between these
(a) An unknown hitherto undetected mechanism able to
transform known things in surprising ways (e.g., a
trickster that turns computers into elephants), and
(b) The logical possibility of a known thing able to
act in a surprising way (e.g., bread suddenly becoming
It seems to me that things like (a) are always possible
because we have limited information about the universe.
But I think (b) is not possible, assuming that we have
correctly understood the nature of a thing.

Do you agree with this? Or do you think the possibility
of (a) ruins any claims we can make about objective causality
and introduces fundamental uncertainty? Or can we
discount case (a) and concentrate instead on case (b)?

Perhaps we don't want to think aloud on OPE-L about such
matters, so I'm willing to take the discussion offline,
if you wish, and then post a summary later. It's entirely
up to you.

All the best,


Help STOP SPAM with the new MSN 8 and get 2 months FREE*

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Nov 27 2003 - 00:00:01 EST