What is the Causality Principle, and What Does It Mean?June 26, 2021
causality principle; It is an approach that explains that events and phenomena are connected to each other in a certain way, that every effect has a cause, or that each effect can be explained by connecting it to a cause, or that certain causes will create certain results, and the same causes will produce the same results under the same conditions.
The principle of causality is accepted as a fundamental principle on which the validity of all our knowledge is based. If we do not have the capacity to comprehend causal processes, then we cannot have knowledge.
Although Berkeley argued that we cannot discover efficient causes in things, his intention was to look for the cause of phenomena and therefore linked the predictable order in nature to God’s action. Hume, on the other hand, is skeptical of the causality principle and asks the following question: What is at the root of the idea of causality?
Since ideas are copies of impressions, what or is there an impression that gives us the idea of causality? His answer to this question was negative: there is no corresponding impression to the idea of causality. How then is it possible that we have the idea of causality in our minds? An idea of causality must have arisen in our minds when we experience certain relations between objects: when we speak of cause and effect; we mean to say that A is the cause of B. But what kind of relationship between A and B gives rise to this discourse? Experience shows us three relationships: the first is intimacy or succession, the second is priority in time, and the third is perpetual association.
In all these relationships we always see A being followed by B; but there is another relationship that common sense often understands when it says causation; which means that there is a mandatory connection between A and B. However, neither the succession nor the antecedent in time, nor the continuous togetherness show us the “necessary” connection between the objects. But according to Hume, when we think of objects individually, we think of them independently of one another; one does not imply the other. For example, no observations of oxygen imply that it will give us water when combined with hydrogen; we only know this after seeing the two of them together. Therefore, we can only infer the existence of one object from another through experience.
We do not have the impression of necessary connections, just as we have the impressions of succession, priority, and continuous association. Thus causality is not a quality we observe in objects. But it is a connotation habit that is mostly produced from the repetition of A and B examples.
According to Hume, experience shows us three relations between objects; proximity or succession, priority in time, and constant togetherness. In all three of these, the relationship between object A and object B is not mandatory. Therefore, causality is not a quality observed in objects, but a habit of association produced from the repetitions of A and B examples.
Hume himself states that the causality principle is a central concept for all kinds of knowledge, but this skeptical conclusion he reached regarding causality made the possibility of natural knowledge difficult. Hume divides the types of knowledge into two: those based on relations between ideas and those related to facts. The first group includes logic and mathematics information. This information is information that can be shown to be correct either intuitively or demonstratively. For example, the axioms of Euclidean geometry are intuitively known; It is also known demonstratively that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is equal to the sum of two right angles.
As for the case issues; He concluded that since there is no evidence showing that there is a necessary cause and effect among the phenomena in nature, it is not possible to talk about definitive information in this field. There is no reason left to accept the belief that “everything that begins to exist must have a cause”. Because all our knowledge in this field is based on experience or perception. Experience does not prove to us that there are necessary connections between objects. Therefore, the accuracy of the information provided by natural sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology is doubtful.
According to Hume, the natural sciences cannot provide precise knowledge because experience cannot prove necessary connections between objects.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook