In Eric Schliesser (ed.), Neglected Classics of Philosophy, II. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Jessica M. Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough
Mary Shepherd (1777–1847) was a fierce and brilliant critic of Berkeley and Hume, who moreover offered strikingly original positive views about the nature of reality and our access to it which deserve much more attention (and credit, since she anticipates many prominent views) than they have received thus far. By way of illustration, I focus on Shepherd's 1824 Essay Upon the Relation of Cause and Effect, Controverting the Doctrine of Mr. Hume, Concerning the Nature of that Relation (ERCE). After a brief setup, I canvas certain of her trenchant objections to Hume’s argumentation; I then present the positive core of her response to Hume, which consists in providing novel accounts of how reason alone or reason coupled with experience can justify, first, that every effect must have a cause, and second, that it is necessary that like causes produce like effects. Among other contributions here, Shepherd provides a distinctively metaphysical argument for the claim that nothing can begin to exist 'of itself' (going beyond an appeal to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, in particular), and leverages difference-making considerations to make the case that a single 'experimentum crucis' can justify causal belief (anticipating Mill's 'method of difference'). I close by highlighting salient features of Shepherd's metaphysics of causation, whereby causation is singularist and local (anticipating Ducasse and Anscombe) and involves synchronic interactions (anticipating Mill's and certain contemporary accounts), and according to which objects are essentially characterized by their causes and effects (anticipating contemporary causal or dispositional essentialist positions).
Keywords Mary Shepherd  Hume  causation  necessary connections  causal singularism  method of difference
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,916
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Home University Library.
Causality and Properties.Sydney Shoemaker - 1980 - In Peter van Inwagen (ed.), Time and Cause. D. Reidel. pp. 109-35.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mary Shepherd on Causal Necessity.Jeremy Fantl - 2016 - Metaphysica 17 (1):87-108.
Mary Shepherd and the Meaning of ‘Life’.Deborah Boyle - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (2):208-225.
Mary Shepherd on Mind, Soul, and Self.Deborah Boyle - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (1):93-112.
Hume's Account of Causation.Sun Demirli - 1999 - Dissertation, Syracuse University


Added to PP index

Total views
72 ( #157,899 of 2,497,778 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
33 ( #26,254 of 2,497,778 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes