[hist-analytic] Davidson's Hume

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Mon May 25 11:41:26 EDT 2009

On Sunday 24 May 2009 18:23:08 Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:
>In a message dated 5/23/2009 8:43:11 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
>rbj at rbjones.com quotes from S. Bayne:
>>>But does the fact that this means that it is logically  necessary that the
>>>cause of b caused b is not so obvious. Let's take  a look.
>and comments:
>>The bit you quote from Davidson, after the correction  offered
>>by Aune seems OK,
>>It's not clear from your message what  Davidson concluded from this,
>>e.g. did he make the inference you question  above?
>I wonder, too.
>I find that in the relevant page in "Reasons, Causes...", he uses
>      'the cause of b caused b'
>as _analytic_, which I'd take as 'logically necessary'.

Well that seems to contradict Aune and support Steve's qualms.

On that basis, I should (more definitely than Steve) say
that Davidson is wrong, unless it were logically necessary
that every event has a unique cause (which I can't swallow).

However, if the sentence is read in plain English, rather
than as a surrogate for something one might say in
predicate logic, then its possible that it might
have been intended to express a conditional.

     the cause of b (if it has one) caused b

and I would concede the analyticity if that were the
intention (and hence the speakers meaning).

However, if the claim is attenuated enough for it
to be analytic, then it will have insufficient
force to be a problem for Hume.
So the only hope for Davidson is equivocation
(I don't think this is the same as gerrymandering).
He must use the weak interpretation subtly in
establishing the claim, and then glide effortlessly
into the stronger one when it comes to using
it against Hume.

Roger Jones

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