chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction: the scholarly background

The importance of naturalism in understanding Hume’s philosophy was first emphasized by Kemp Smith. Kemp Smith’s work has been available for more than fifty years1 but it has not had the influence one might have anticipated. Amongst specialists on Hume, it has certainly had an influence. But amongst philosophers in general, at least until very recently, it has been largely ignored. It is still very common, for example, to find references to ‘Humean Causation’. This is the view that causation is identical with regularity or constant conjunction. The implication is that Hume held this view. It is not uncommon to find people who assume that Hume denied the existence of causation altogether. Kemp Smith spent some time in demolishing both those views. My own interpretation of Hume differs from Kemp Smith’s but it is greatly indebted to him and it will be useful therefore to consider, first, what interpretation he advanced, and second, why it has not been widely influential.