Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Humean World: a world without causality - phenomenally like our world. See also David K. Lewis, Humean supervenience, Humean mosaic.

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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
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I 243
Humean World/slippery slope argument/Jackson/Bigelow/Pargetter: (Jackson 1977a) pro Humean World: (slippery slope) For example, a world in which laws of the 1st level are not only not necessary, but also have exceptions.
For example, suppose it is pure coincidence whether an F is a G or not. Any non-G would be a contingent thing that would not have existed. If it exists, it does not affect any F.
Then there is a world where it is also coincidental whether an F is a G, but where there is one F less, which is a non-G. From this world we can deduce the existence of another world that still has one less F, which is a non-G. etc. In the end, this proves that there is a world where every F has a 0.5 chance to be a G and yet all F's are G's!
This is completely consistent with a theory of probability theory.
From this we conclude that it is quite possible that there is a Humean World for every possible world.
Humean World/Bigelow/Pargetter: is easy to define when we are dealing with laws in the form of simple sentences (describing regularities). It is more difficult with more complex shapes. (See below Chapter 6).
Accessibility/Bigelow/Pargetter: the Humean World obliges us to an accessibility relation that does not supervene on properties of the 1st level and relations.
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I 245
Counterfactual conditionals: those that are valid for laws in the actual world fail in the Humean World. Therefore, the accessibility of the Humean world would differ from the actual world in its accessibility without differing from its properties of the 1st level.
Accessibility/Bigelow/Pargetter: nevertheless, there are strong reasons to believe in a supervenience of the accessibility relation on the contents of the world. This leads us to assume that the contents of the 1st level do not exhaust all the contents of the world.
Combinatorial theories: they must therefore adopt universals of higher level and therefore also the property theory of world properties.
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I 279
Causal World/Bigelow/Pargetter: be a world in which some things cause some others. How many such worlds may there be?
Some authors: all worlds are causal worlds. From reflections on individuality.
Individual/some authors/Bigelow/Pargetter: according to some theories, they are just "bundles of properties". Question, what holds them together? Thesis: properties are held together causally.
Causal world/some authors/Bigelow/Pargetter: say that every possible world is causal because no possible world is timeless.
Time/Bigelow/Pargetter: we believe in the causal theory of the time arrow and in the asymmetry of past and future, but not in a causal theory of time itself. Therefore, we do not think that all possible worlds are causal. We believe that there are Humean Worlds and Heimson Worlds. What we need now is a Humean world.
Humean World/Bigelow/Pargetter: it does not matter whether it is accessible or not. Only their existence counts. We need to show their logical possibility. (i.e. the possibility of a world like ours in terms of regularities of the 1st level, but without causes and without laws).
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I 280
Modality: the difference between the actual world and a Humean world cannot be merely modal. Modal differences must be based on differences in the content of the possible world. They cannot be identical in terms of their content and can still be modally different. There must be something present in the causal world, and absent in the non-causal.
Definition Humean World/Bigelow/Pargetter: it therefore cannot be defined by the absence of causality. We define it as a world that corresponds to ours on the 1st level of properties and relations. But they differ in relation to relations between properties and relations of relations. They differ in terms of higher-level universals. Some of these will not supervene on those of the 1st level.
Definition Cause/Bigelow/Pargetter: is a relation of the 2nd level between events. (Relation between properties). It does not supervene on intrinsic properties of the 1st Level of events.
The relations of the 2nd level apply contingently if we allow Humean Worlds.
I.e. effect and cause could also occur, with the same properties of the 1st level, if they are not in the relevant relations of the 2nd level. These are external.
Events: can have the same properties of the 1st level and yet still differ in properties of the 2nd level. Therefore, the Humean world can be similar to the actual one.
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I 281
If they occur in the same possible world, on the other hand, they will be the same on both levels. (Because we treat them as universals).
Degree/Level/Order/Terminology/Bigelow/Pargetter: therefore, one match on the 1st level implies a match of 2nd degree (sic) for all event pairs in the same world.
Degree/Properties: (see above I 53) Properties 2nd degree: the commonality of properties. For example, green includes all shades of green.
Causation: but because of their local character (see above) it may be that the pairs of events are causally different! This means that causation is a relation of the 2nd level which does not supervene, neither on properties of the 1st Level, nor on the 2nd degree and relations.
N.B.: causation connects not only universals, but structures that involve both. Universals of higher level and individual items.
Causal relation/Bigelow/Pargetter: must therefore be of a higher level itself. Question: Which properties and relations do they constitute? For this, we look at another difference between the Humean world and the actual world.
Definition Berkeley World/Bigelow/Pargetter: one in which causation is an act of will (of God). Berkeley, for example, thought that the distant planets could not possibly exert a force on the sun. So it was God who caused the sun to be moved away a little from its place.
Hume: removed the act of will from the Berkeley World and so his world became a world without causation.
Humean World/Bigelow/Pargetter: is first and foremost a world without powers.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Big I
J. Bigelow, R. Pargetter
Science and Necessity Cambridge 1990


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-11-20