Humean Supervenience Analytical Essay by Shaad

Humean Supervenience
This paper presents the modern debate regarding what Hume has to say concerning the laws of nature supervening over the world as we perceive it, and exposes the debate as spurious.
# 146707 | 1,958 words | 6 sources | APA | 2010 | BD
Published by on Jan 13, 2011 in Philosophy (Metaphysics) , Philosophy (Logic) , Philosophy (Science) , Philosophy (Epistemology)

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This essay discusses the problem of Humean supervenience. It argues that the problem is a spurious one and arises from a misunderstanding of what Hume had to say regarding the necessity of effect following cause. It further argues that "Humeans" do not really follow the reasoning of Hume, who does not deny that necessity is involved in cause and effect, and that Hume does not subscribe to a purely descriptive account of the universe as is held by the Humeans. The writer maintains that the Necessitarians are mistaken in their belief to have given a full account of necessity. The wrier exposes their accounts as mere semantic acrobatics, and maintains that one is forced to agree with Hume that one can only experience necessity but cannot explain why A necessitates B. The writer argues that scientific laws do not provide such an explanation, and that they are explanatory only to the extent that they are contingent and specific.

From the Paper:

"The implication is that there cannot be anything as 'contingent necessitation'. We must either construe a logical necessitation, or else a conjunction of two events must be simply be called a regularity. This is the position of Lewis and of the Humeans in general. Their opposition to necessity is really an opposition to the phraseology employed by the Necessitarians. This distinction is lost due to the fact that the opposition to the Necessitarians takes precedence over the real issue at hand. When properly considered, the position of the Humeans should not really differ from the position of Hume, which is that all things proceed from necessity. As the Necessitarians argue, without necessity it is impossible to distinguish between a meaningful regularity and a merely accidental one. A meaningful regularity can be established as a law when its counterfactual prohibits it. Therefore, 'water boils at 100 C' may be established as a law because water does not boil below that temperature. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Armstrong, D. (1983) What Is a Law of Nature?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cartwright, N. (1980) 'Do the Laws of Physics state the Facts', Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 61, pp. 75-84.
  • Hume, D. (2007) An enquiry concerning human understanding and other writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Lewis, D. (1973) Counterfactuals, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Lewis, D. (1983) 'New Work for a Theory of Universals', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 61, pp. 343-377.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Humean Supervenience (2011, January 13) Retrieved February 06, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Humean Supervenience" 13 January 2011. Web. 06 February. 2023. <>