Super-Humeanism and physics: A merry relationship?

Matarese, Vera (2020). Super-Humeanism and physics: A merry relationship? Synthese, 199(1-2), pp. 791-813. Springer Netherlands 10.1007/s11229-020-02717-w

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Humeanism started life as a metaphysical program that could turn out to be false if our best physical theories were to postulate ontological features at odds with Humean ones. However, even if this has arguably already happened, Humeanism is still considered one of the strongest and most appealing metaphysical theories for describing the physical world. What is even more surprising is that a radical Humean thesis—Super-Humeanism—which posits an extremely parsimonious ontology including nothing more than propertyless matter points and their distance relations, is said by its proponents to follow from an attentive reading of our best physical theories. Given its close relationship with physics, Super-Humeans argue that their doctrine (i) conforms to Scientific Realism, (ii) offers the ontology that best explains physics’ empirical evidence, and (iii) is a naturalistic theory. This paper investigates the strategies that Super-Humeans have adopted to defend these three claims and, more generally, its alleged closeness to physics. I will show that, contrary to what advocates of Super-Humeanism claim, some of its commitments have inevitably created a gap between itself and physics that is difficult to overcome. While it is laudable that Super-Humeans have adopted various strategies to close this gap, no strategy has yet fully succeeded.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Matarese, Vera


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
100 Philosophy




Springer Netherlands




Vera Matarese

Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2021 17:13

Last Modified:

21 Nov 2021 01:36

Publisher DOI:





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