I'm an amateur philosopher, interested in the work of Ned Hall:

My amateur interpreation of Humeanism is this-

There is no such thing as "cause and effect". There is just a bunch of stuff happening! The "laws of physics" are simply patterns in what is happening.

My question is this: is Humeanism necessarily true? That is, is it true in all possible worlds? Is there a possible world in which Humeanism isn't true?

  • Necessarily true? Why? Maybe it is false because there are "real" cause-effect relations. May 23, 2021 at 16:06
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Hahaha. Yeah, I don't have any strong opinion on whether causation exists or not... but some philosophers ("Humeans") think that causality doesn't exist in our world... to these Humeans, I want to ask, do they also believe that causality is metaphysically impossible (ie. it cannot exist in any possible world)? May 23, 2021 at 16:21
  • The question is incomplete without specifying the type of possibility involved. Since there is nothing self-contradictory in either Humeanism or causalism both are logically possible. Physical possibility depends on how one interprets laws of physics, causally or just phenomenologically. If you have another type of possibility in mind please specify. But basically the question is vacuous, the answer is determined by one's favorite metaphysics.
    – Conifold
    May 23, 2021 at 22:15
  • Causality doesn't necessarily imply cause has to precede effect temporally, it may not even have anything to do with interactions visualized by most people at all, it's more to do with logical entailment. Can you think of a world where no logical entailment holds? May 24, 2021 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


My interpretation of causation here: Is the idea of a causal chain physical (or even scientific)?. TLDR: No it doesn't make sense.

Our best picture is that things like space, are patterns in translational symmetries that various particles share, and time is also a set of symmetries - ie it is emergent. Causality is a heuristic conceptual overlay, that helps us make predictions, rather than 'out there'.

'Spaces' within the fundamental space, can have their own consistent rules, though they will be fundamentally emergent. So the space of identities and minds, is real, in a sense, just not fundamentally.

Physical laws seem to have great simplicity and elegance. We expect different universes to be within a state-space of variations of fundamental dimensionless physical constants, plus initial conditions (cyclical models like Conformal Cyclic Cosmology mean these may have emerged complexity) which allows different outcomes from something very simple like symmetry-breaking of one force.

So I'd say causality is not fundamental, and note this addresses Hume's problem of induction. Because there aren't momentary fragments of causation, but rather specific instances of wider patterns, which we think alone can produce the universes structure and complexity, and that of all other universes.

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