Natural Connection Between The Two

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Imagine you want some tea, so you put a kettle of water on the stove. You turn on the gas, and shortly after, the water boils. In looking at what just happened, can you say that turning on the gas caused the water to boil? Or instead, would you say that there were two events – gas going on, and water boiling – but there is no real connection between the two? This dilemma plagued Hume throughout his life, and Section VII of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding deals exclusively with the subject of necessary connection and causality. Typically, the tradition of causality – saying A causes B – has been held as such: A is prior to B; A and B are contiguous (close in time and space); A and B are constantly conjoined; and A and B are necessarily connected. Hume took issue with this last condition – to say that would be to say that A has the power to produce B, therefore stating a causal necessity. Hume instead endeavored to eliminate this fourth condition, and reduce it to the first three, and constant conjunction. Hume’s central thought is that all we get to find out about the world is regularity, one thing following another, and one thing following another again, and so we conjure up beliefs about what causes what – through constant conjunction. Helen Beebee, a professor of philosophy at the University of Birmingham, says Hume was trying to do away with the “the thought that we can know a priori just by reflecting on concept, just by reflecting on the nature of ideas,
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