By Christian Reus-Smit, Nicholas Wheeler
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Additional resources for Causation in IR
53 54 Hume (1978: 157). Hume (1978: 161–3). Hume (1978: 170). 36 Legacies of Humean philosophy of causation Upon the whole, necessity is something that exists in the mind, not in objects: nor is it possible for us ever to form the most distant idea of it considered as a quality of bodies. 56 The one important qualification Hume insists on is that causes must be prior to their effects: indeed, in order to identify what is ‘cause’ and what an ‘effect’ Hume needs to define cause as the ‘precedent event’, that is, the type of event that is observed temporally prior to the effect.
Matter was a cause through providing the material from which a thing comes to be, such as marble as the cause of a statue. 13 Crucially, matter, for Aristotle, is of little significance in and of itself, and it is ultimately unintelligible: we cannot make sense of marble as the cause of the statue without considering what it is being moulded into. To define or specify material causes, Aristotle thinks we require understanding of the second type of cause, formal cause. Formal causes refer to the forms, ideas or essences of things.
81 The ‘conventionalists’ concurred with this anti-realist conclusion. ¨ Henri Poincar´e and Pierre Duhem proposed that what we think are scientific facts are only what we think are convenient ways of thinking about the world. This entailed a whole-scale rejection of independent reality beyond the human mind, an assumption that had been fundamental for Aristotle and was also implicitly accepted by Hume. 82 Crucially, the logical positivist philosophers of science who became influential in the early part of the twentieth century followed these empiricist lines of thought: they aimed to give the new radical empiricist premises solid grounding through ‘logical analysis of language’.
Causation in IR by Christian Reus-Smit, Nicholas Wheeler