When we use sensory experience to create laws that govern nature, we accumulate enough evidence about some phenomena and then generalize it to say that these experiences are the cause of a certain effect. Hitting a billiard ball, for instance, in exactly the right way can lead to it going into one of the pockets in the billiard table. The entire game of billiards is based on this principle. David Hume argues against this saying we cannot show there is a cause to effect relationship in this instance, nor in any other like instance.
Playing pool or billiards. Source: Flickr. Creative Commons
At first glance, it may appear that Hume violates commonsense when we can see for ourselves that most often when the ball is struck in a certain way, it really does end up in one of the pockets. Hume would have seen that too. So it must be that he is not really discussing the physical experience of playing billiards. What he is discussing is the mental process of our judging the movement of the ball. There is no physical law of cause to effect observable by our senses. The process of cause to effect is a mental construct or addition to our consideration of what happens to the ball. In other words, there is a gap missing between the ball and the fact that it ends up in the pocket.
Your assignment is to use the information from our reading this week, to give a detailed explanation of what Hume says is wrong with the principle of causality. Explain what he means by association of habit.
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