Why history matters: Associations and causal judgment in Hume and cognitive science

Mark Collier

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    It is commonly thought that Hume endorses the claim that causal cognition can be fully explained in terms of nothing but custom and habit. Associative learning does, of course, play a major role in the cognitive psychology of the Treatise. But Hume recognizes that associations cannot provide a complete account of causal thought. If human beings lacked the capacity to reflect on rules for judging causes and effects, then we could not (as we do) distinguish between accidental and genuine regularities, and Hume could not (as he does) carry out his science of human nature. One might reply that what appears to be rule-governed behavior might emerge from associative systems that do not literally employ rules. But this response fails: there is a growing consensus in cognitive science that any adequate account of causal learning must invoke active, controlled cognitive processes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)175-188
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Mind and Behavior
    Volume28
    Issue number3-4
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

    Keywords

    • Associative learning
    • David Hume
    • Rules for judging causes and effects

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