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A Tale of Two CulturesQualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences$
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Gary Goertz and James Mahoney

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149707

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149707.001.0001

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Hume’s Two Definitions of Cause

Hume’s Two Definitions of Cause

(p.75) Chapter 6 Hume’s Two Definitions of Cause
A Tale of Two Cultures

Gary Goertz

James Mahoney

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines David Hume's two definitions of cause in the context of quantitative and qualitative research. The two definitions can be found in Hume's quotation from Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, and Concerning the Principles of Morals: “We may define a cause to be an object followed by another, and where all the objects, similar to the first, are followed by objects similar to the second [definition 1]. Or, in other words, where, if the first object had not been, the second never would have existed [definition 2].” Hume's phrase “in other words” makes it appear as if definition 1 and definition 2 are equivalent, when in fact they represent quite different approaches. The chapter considers how Hume's definition 2, which it calls the “counterfactual definition,” and definition 1, the “constant conjunction definition,” are related to understandings of causation in the qualitative and quantitative research traditions.

Keywords:   cause, David Hume, qualitative research, counterfactual definition, constant conjunction definition, causation, quantitative research

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