Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hume and Kant on Cause and Effect

   It is continually confusing to me why Kant and Hume are so sharply contrasted. I mean to correct this presently, and to keep it brief.
   We can see how on the surface Hume and Kant look like they are in conflict: Hume says cause is never known with necessity while Kant says that cause is always known with necessity. However, this expression of both thinkers completely lacks the subtly required to understand either of them.
   Hume says there is no necessity to any of our causal inferences. That is, we see certain occurrences many times and draw an inference that there is some rule that relates them; however, since there is always outstanding experience, we cannot know if this relation will continue to maintain itself.
   On the other hand, Kant says that cause and effect involves a necessary connection in time of appearances. That is, when something happens it always involves an appearance (the effect), and the connection to a prior appearance in which something was different. There is no empirical rule implied in this, there is no inference even, it is simply an evaluation of what the experience of a cause is like.
   Kant agrees with Hume that none of our empirical inferences have necessity. Even further, Hume seems to agree with Kant in the necessary connections of appearances, particularly how he discusses principles of association. His work in showing how no empirical rules have necessity completely grants the principles of association - one of them being cause and effect - even as it denies any of the particular rules.

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