Questions on Hume and Aquinas

William O'Meara (c) Copyright, 1997

David Hume: The Cause-Effect Connection

  1. What is Hume's position on rational intuition into the supposed connection between a cause and its effect? Exemplify and explain.



    2. What objection could we raise against Hume? How would Hume reply to that objection? Explain Hume's view that the argument for knowledge of the causal principle is circular.






    3. Is there a way of trying to answer Hume's view that knowledge of the causal principle is circular? What is your view about whether or not it is possible for something to come to be from nothing? Explain.





    4. Does Hume hold that we have a sensory experience of the necessary connection between cause and effect? Explain his view.






    5. What do you agree with and what do you disagree with in Hume's analysis of the experience of causality? Explain why or why not.





    6. Exemplify and explain the only way we believe in cause-effect relationships for Hume (from the portion of the lecture where Hume on Knowledge of God begins).





    7. Using that way of believing in the cause of an event, exemplify and explain how we could know God as the cause of the world for Hume.





    8. Why cannot we use that way of believing in the cause of an event to prove that God is the cause of the world?




    9. What is the argument that is usually offered from causality which Hume summarizes?






    10. What would Aquinas's evaluation of that argument be?




    11. What is Hume's evaluation of that argument?




    12. What is the comparison of their evaluations in the lecture at the end of the lecture?







    Lecture on Aquinas' Second and Third Way

    1. Explain whether Descartes and Aquinas accept the principle of efficient causality. Discuss what are the strengths of their view of causality versus the view of Hume on causality.





  3. What is Hick's way of reading this causal series that is the supposed basis for concluding to the First Cause?




3. How does Hick evaluate the argument?




4. Would Aquinas agree with Hick as Hick has interpreted the premises? Explain whether or not you yourself would agree so far.





5. Aquinas distinguishes between an accidentally ordered series of causes and an essentially ordered series of causes. Explain that distinction by analyzing examples of the two series.









6. Which series does Aquinas use as the basis of his proof?




7. If God is the cause of all actions in an essentially ordered series, how can human action avoid being forced and necessitated by God's causality?




8. What are the premises and conclusion of Aquinas' argument?





9. What is the logical structure of the argument? Is the structure valid or invalid? Explain.




10. Explain whether or not the first premise is true?





11. Explain whether or not the second premise is true?






12. What objection does Hick raise against the argument? How does Aquinas agree or disagree with such an objection? (See earlier part of lecture for Hick's analysis and the response of Aquinas.)






13. What serious objection to the second premise is noted by James Ross? What is one way of responding? What is another way of responding offered by Ross?





14. Also, discuss the response of the lecture to the problem raised by Ross that "too many philosophers, writing introductory texts, treat the arguments for the existence of God as if they have little to offer the student"? Include an analysis of your own personal response to the argument's claimed validity and the truth of the premises.









Questions on the Third Way

15. What is the beginning point of the second way, and what is the beginning point of the third way? Then state the 3rd way of proving the existence of God in clear logical form.







16. What is the logical structure of the argument? Is it valid or invalid? Why?





17. Is the first premise true? Evidence for the first premise is offered with paragraphs beginning: "The question now is:" and "In summary:"





18. Is the second premise true? That is, what argument does the teacher offer for the second premise?






19. How would Aquinas respond to the objection that he has shown that there exists a First Cause and a Necessary Being but not that God is the First Cause and Necessary Being? Give some indication of the analysis offered to respond to that objection.






20. Some basic principles of critical thinking are:

Please explain fully how your thinking about God (whether you are a theist, a pantheist, an agnostic, or an atheist) also exemplifies each of the four key principles of critical thinking noted above. Number your answers 1 to 4.

  1. How is your view of God rooted in either valid deductive arguments or in strongly probable inductive arguments?







  3. How do you present good evidence or analysis for the truth of the premises of your thinking about God?







  5. Explain how your conclusions in thinking about God are consistent and without contradiction of other key ideas in your view.








  7. Explain how your conclusions about God are in agreement with well accepted truths in the sciences such as astronomy and biology and in the humanities such as ethics and theories of basic human rights in political theory.












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