Reasons and Actions

John Bricke

in Mind and Morality

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250111
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681240 | DOI:
Reasons and Actions

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David Hume provides the ingredients for a conativist theory of reasons for action, a theory that assigns a distinctive and ineliminable motivational role to an agent's desires. He does so while attempting to subvert the claims of various cognitivist theories that, emphasizing an agent's beliefs, would dismiss, restrict, or dilute the conativist contention that desire is essential to the motivation of action. This chapter constructs, largely from ingredients provided by Hume, a standard conativist theory of the sort that the arguments in his Treatise of Human Nature are designed to establish. It discusses Hume's two intricate arguments in the Treatise. The first argument focuses on certain fairly obvious features of the practice of explaining actions, while the second deals with the notion of truth-evaluability and establishes a condition on action explanation that calls for conativism rather than cognitivism in the construal of reasons for action.

Keywords: David Hume; reasons; action; desire; conativism; cognitivism; Treatise of Human Nature; truth-evaluability

Chapter.  13859 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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