I'm listening to this lecture on mental causation:


At 22:50, the lecturer says, "Hume told us didn't he that there can't be logical relations between cause and effect" etc.

And on the slide it says, "In the 50s and 60s others thought that reasons couldn't be causes because reasons(beliefs and desires) are logically linked to their behavioral effects".

Why would having a logical connection rule out a cause and effect relation? I mean I can understand a logical relation not being sufficient for a cause and effect relation... but why would a logical relation work against the idea of cause and effect? If A is logically connected to B, that specifically works against A possibly causing B? So A and B not being logically connected means the likelihood of a cause/effect connection is higher? Appreciate any help understanding.

  • 2
    The notion of "logical relation" is obscure in the first place. If it is a relation that holds in virtue of logic alone there are precious few such relations, and they hold not between events but statements. Perhaps, conceptual relations are meant, but even then the video misstates what Hume told us. It is not that they cannot be conceptually related, but that causal connection cannot be derived conceptually (or inductively, for that matter). Maybe the idea is that reasons can't be causes because they are conceptual re-descriptions of effects (behavior), i.e. confabulations after the fact.
    – Conifold
    Feb 8, 2023 at 5:16
  • @Conifold, I think maybe she meant Wittgenstein not Hume because she mentions a paper afterwards by Davidson which is a response to Wittgenstein. Feb 8, 2023 at 5:39
  • Can you give a life example when A is logically connected to B? Feb 8, 2023 at 8:50
  • You may be interested in Davidson and his writings on reasons and causes.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Feb 8, 2023 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


The connection between a reason and a behaviour is a logical one. The reason in this context explains the behaviour, answers the question: "What is the purpose of this behaviour?"

The connection is not a causal connection. The reason does not cause the behaviour. A cause both determines what will happen and provides the energy to make it happen.

The purpose is about the future, the behaviour aims at a certain kind of future state.

The cause is about the past, how prior events determine subsequent events.

  • If there are differences between reasons and causes your suggestions do not capture them. A cause also "explains" why this effect and not some other; it does not have to provide energy (that may come from somewhere else, and some causing is energy neutral); and a cause is also "about the future" prior to producing the effect, just as a reason is "about the past" after it was acted upon.
    – Conifold
    Feb 8, 2023 at 21:52
  • My choice of words may be sub-optimal, but I tried to make the distinction between causality and teleology. Causality is physics, that's why I mentioned energy. Teleology is philosophy. My mistake was to use the word "reason" instead of "purpose". I will modify my answer accordingly. Feb 9, 2023 at 4:43

Okey, it is about the narrative perception. When you are composing a story, when you are reading a created narrative's thread, you have to choose an interpretations of choosing events: why these are facts, why are you thinking that these are facts. This interpretation a connection from A to B you examine as a "true". When you chose "logical true" - it is not a true, it is a reference to something else - science, religion, or else base(axiomatic one or blind belife). The true exist only in axioms consistency.

But. These all work only if choosing reality is possible. If you don't have a choice - it is not a logical relation.

That is mean that all the choices are an illusion.

Moiras are already woven the thread, because μοίρα means a fate as a fate means μοίρα.

You can choose with logical relation only if you are not in circle mind, but you can't be out of circle mind because your choices depends on circle axioms, where fact is a fact only because you use this axiomatic base.

And this is impossible to understanding if thou needest reference to Wittgenstein or Hume authority(read axioms) to be able understand this... This is out of logical understanding, it is not a relation 'from belife to belife'(read from reference to reference).

As an example. Can you remember what she did when explained this? You didn't think this way. You think that she told something, not what she did in reality. Because you use logic. But she drew suns. It looked like she drew suns. That was happened, that was her behavior, not that you thought about this by logical relation. Why she did that?

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