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Humeans are out of this world

  • Erica ShumenerEmail author


I defend the following argument in this paper. Premise 1: Laws of nature are intrinsic to the universe. Premise 2: Humeanism maintains that laws of nature are extrinsic to the universe. Conclusion: Humeanism is false. This argument is inspired by Hawthorne’s (Noûs 38(2):351–358, 2004) argument in “Humeans are out of their Minds”. My argument differs from his; Hawthorne focuses on Humean views of causation and how they interact with judgments about consciousness. He thinks Humeans are forced to treat certain mental properties (insofar as they involve causal features) as extrinsic to conscious minds. I do not discuss causation or consciousness here. I focus on Humean accounts of laws. I argue that Humean laws are extrinsic to the entire universe. As such, Humeans are not just out of their minds; they are out of this world. I aim to show that premises 1 and 2 are well-supported and that denying either of them comes at a cost. Nevertheless, some Humeans may prefer to reject 1 or 2 rather than give up Humeanism. Even if the Humean takes one of these routes, the argument above has philosophical import: it shows that Humeanism involves surprising commitments.


Metaphysics Intrinsicality Laws of nature 



I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers at Synthese for their insightful and (very patient!) feedback, without which this paper would be in a much worse state. Thanks as well to Martín Abreu Zavaleta, Dmitri Gallow, Ronald Houts, and Evelyn Zamora-Vargas for helpful comments on the ideas in this paper. I would also like to thank the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México for their support.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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