Why Humean Causation Is Extrinsic


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


According to a view that goes by “Humeanism,” causal facts supervene on patterns of worldly entities. The simplest form of Humeanism is the constant conjunction theory: a particular type-F thing causes a particular type-G thing iff (i) that type-F is conjoined with that type-G thing and (ii) all F's are conjoined with G's. The constant conjunction theory implies that all causation is extrinsic, in the following sense: for all positive causal facts pertaining to each possible region, it's extrinsic to that region that those causal facts pertain to it. Actual Humeans don't accept the constant conjunction theory; they accept more sophisticated versions of Humeanism. But I argue that they, too, are committed to the thesis that all causation is extrinsic. In arguing for this claim, I use a discussion from Brian Weatherson as a springboard. Weatherson argues that on a plausible Humean view, some regions are such that all of their possible duplicates have the same or similar natural laws. I show that this is false. If Humeanism is true, then for every possible region, there are possible duplicates of that region with utterly alien natural laws. As a consequence, no causal facts pertain intrinsically to any region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • causation
  • counterfactuals
  • David Lewis
  • natural law
  • plenitude


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