•  242
    Most naturalists think that the belief/desire model from Hume is the best framework for making sense of motivation. As Smith has argued, given that the cognitive state (belief) and the conative state (desire) are separate on this model, if a moral judgment is cognitive, it could not also be motivating by itself. So, it looks as though Hume and Humeans cannot hold that moral judgments are states of belief (moral cognitivism) and internally motivating (moral internalism). My chief claim is that th…Read more
  •  197
    That Hume 's theory can be interpreted in two widely divergent ways-as a version of sentimentalism and as an ideal observer theory-is symptomatic of a puzzle ensconced in Hume 's theory. How can the ground of morality be internal and motivating when an inference to the feelings of a spectator in "the general point of view" is typically necessary to get to genuine moral distinctions? This paper considers and rejects the suggestion that in moral education, for Hume, the inculcation of morality int…Read more
  •  132
    Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary (edited book)
    with Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff, and Anand Jayprakash Vaidya
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2007.
    Part of the Blackwell Readings in the History of Philosophy series, this survey of late modern philosophy focuses on the key texts and philosophers of the period whose beliefs changed the course of western thought.
  •  122
    Hume’s thesis that reason alone does not motivate is taken as the ground for this theory: Reason produces beliefs only, and beliefs are mere representations of fact, which, without passions for the objects the beliefs concern, cannot move anyone at all. Discussions of the Humean theory of motivation usually begin with the motivating passions in place without asking about their genesis. This emphasis, I think, overlooks a good deal of what Hume’s thesis concerning the motivational impotence of re…Read more
  •  113
    This review offers an overview of Sandis's book and raises a few questions about it.
  •  111
    Rachel Cohon's Hume is a moral sensing theorist, who holds both that moral qualities are mind-dependent and that there is such a thing as moral knowledge. He is an anti-rationalist about motivation, arguing that reason alone does not motivate, but allows that both beliefs and passions are motivating. And he is both a descriptive and a normative moral theorist who, despite having resources for putting checks on our sentimentally-based moral evaluations, does end up with a kind of a relativistic a…Read more
  •  87
    How does the Humean sense of duty motivate?
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 34 (3): 383-407. 1996.
    On Hume's account, when we lack virtues that would typically prompt moral action, we can instead be motivated by the "sense of duty." Surprisingly, Hume seems to maintain that, in such cases, we are motivated by a desire to avoid the unpleasantness of "self-hatred" evoked in us when we realize we lack certain traits others possess. This account has led commentators to argue that Hume is not a moral internalist, since motivation by duty is motivation by a self-interested desire. This paper conclu…Read more
  •  86
    The theory that practical reasoning is wholly instrumental says that the only practical function of reason is to tell agents the means to their ends, while their ends are fixed by something other than reason itself. In this essay I argue that Hume has an instrumentalist theory of practical reasoning. This thesis may sound as unexciting as the contention that Kant is a rationalist about morality. For who would have thought otherwise? After all, isn't the ‘instrumentalist’ line in contemporary dis…Read more
  •  67
    The inertness of reason and Hume’s legacy
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (S1): 117-133. 2012.
    Hume argues against the seventeenth-century rationalists that reason is impotent to motivate action and to originate morality. Hume's arguments have standardly been considered the foundation for the Humean theory of motivation in contemporary philosophy. The Humean theory alleges that beliefs require independent desires to motivate action. Recently, however, new commentaries allege that Hume's argument concerning the inertness of reason has no bearing on whether beliefs can motivate. These comme…Read more
  •  60
    Strength of Mind and the Calm and Violent Passions
    Res Philosophica 92 (3): 1-21. 2015.
    Hume’s distinction between the calm and violent passions is one whose boundaries are not entirely clear. However, it is crucial to understanding his motivational theory and to identifying an unusual virtue he calls “strength of mind,” the motivational prevalence of the calm passions over the violent. In this paper, I investigate the boundaries of the calm passions and consider the constitution of strength of mind and why Hume regards it as an admirable trait. These are provocative issues for two…Read more
  •  57
    Utilitas 16 (2): 119-123. 2004.
  •  57
    Ruling passions
    The Philosophers' Magazine 54 (54): 85-89. 2011.
    A radical implication of Hume’s theory of motivation is that it makes no sense, strictly speaking, to call actions rational or irrational. So, he claims, it is not contrary to reason for me to prefer the destruction of the world to getting a scratch on my finger.
  •  54
    Reasons From The Humean Perspective
    Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249): 777-796. 2012.
    Humeans about practical reasoning have tried to explain how some of our desires are reason‐giving and some are not. On one account, we act from reasons only when we act on desires that cohere in a consistent set. On another account, we act on reasons only when we act on desires that do not undermine our values. Both accounts are problematic. First, the notion of a consistent set of desires is vague and introduces a criterion not necessarily rooted in the agent's own motivations. Second, valuing …Read more
  •  51
  •  49
    Hume's Psychology of the Passions: The Literature and Future Directions
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (4): 565-605. 2015.
    in a recent article entitled “Hume on the Passions,” Stephen Buckle opens with the claim that Hume’s theory of the passions has largely been neglected. “Apart from a couple of famous sections in the Treatise concerning the sources of action,” he writes, “the subject matter has rarely excited interest.”1 His analysis of why the subject of the passions in Hume has been uninspiring points to the fact that readers have largely misunderstood the point of Hume’s theory. They usually regard the account…Read more
  •  44
    A Companion to Hume (edited book)
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2008.
    Comprised of twenty-nine specially commissioned essays, _A Companion to Hume_ examines the depth of the philosophies and influence of one of history's most remarkable thinkers. Demonstrates the range of Hume's work and illuminates the ongoing debates that it has generated Organized by subject, with introductions to each section to orient the reader Explores topics such as knowledge, passion, morality, religion, economics, and politics Examines the paradoxes of Hume's thought and his legacy, cove…Read more
  •  43
    Moral Sentimentalism and the Reasonableness of Being Good
    Revue Internationale de Philosophie 2013 (no. 263): 9-27. 2013.
    In this paper, I discuss the implications of Hutcheson’s and Hume’s sentimentalist theories for the question of whether and how we can offer reasons to be moral. Hutcheson and Hume agree that reason does not give us ultimate ends. Because of this, on Hutcheson’s line, the possession of affections and of a moral sense makes practical reasons possible. On Hume’s view, that reason does not give us ultimate ends means that reason does not motivate on its own, and this makes practical reasons, strict…Read more
  •  40
    Hume, Passion, and Action
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    David Hume’s theory of action is well known for several provocative theses, including that passion and reason cannot be opposed over the direction of action. In Hume, Passion, and Action, the author defends an original interpretation of Hume’s views on passion, reason and motivation that is consistent with other theses in Hume’s philosophy, loyal to his texts, and historically situated. This book challenges the now orthodox interpretation of Hume on motivation, presenting an alternative that sit…Read more
  •  35
  •  33
    Hume’s better argument for motivational skepticism
    with Richard McCarty
    Philosophical Explorations 21 (1): 76-89. 2018.
    On a standard interpretation, Hume argued that reason is not practical, because its operations are limited to “demonstration” and “probability.” But recent critics claim that by limiting reason’s operations to only these two, his argument begs the question. Despite this, a better argument for motivational skepticism can be found in Hume’s text, one that emphasizes reason’s inability to generate motive force against contrary desires or passions. Nothing can oppose an impulse but a contrary impuls…Read more
  •  32
    Kenny’s Aquinas on Dispositions for Human Acts
    New Scholasticism 58 (4): 424-446. 1984.
  •  31
    Introduction to an issue on moral and scientific realism in honor of Richard N. Boyd and Nicholas L. Sturgeon (Elizabeth S. Radcliffe, guest editor).
  •  30
    The British Moralists and the Internal 'Ought': 1640-1740 (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (3): 470-472. 1997.
  •  20
    A Cultivated Reason: An essay on Hume and Humeanism (review)
    Philosophical Review 110 (3): 443-446. 2001.
    The main aim of Christopher Williams’s book is to develop and advocate a Humean account of what it is to be a “reasonable” person. The project is motivated by the fact that Hume depicts reason paradoxically as both a source of skepticism and as a source of belief, as both enslaved to the passions and as important to establishing which passions are morally significant. In his preface, Williams tell us that genre matters to philosophy; how it matters, he says, “is another question”. He sees his pr…Read more
  •  16
    Ruly and Unruly Passions: Early Modern Perspectives
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 85 21-38. 2019.
    A survey of theories on the passions and action in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain and western Europe reveals that few, if any, of the major writers held the view that reason in any of its functions executes action without a passion. Even rationalists, like Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth and English clergyman Samuel Clarke, recognized the necessity of passion to action. On the other hand, many of these intellectuals also agreed with French philosophers Jean-François Senault, René…Read more