Hsueh Qu
National University of Singapore
Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move is that is often criticised as ad hoc (e.g. Stroud 1977 and Cohon 2008). In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume (Stroud 1977), or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction (Bricke 1996). I argue that conceptual accounts face a dilemma: either they render the conativist thesis trivial, or they violate Hume's thesis that 'a priori, any thing may produce any thing'. I defend an empirical construal of Hume’s conativist thesis. I provide two theoretical frameworks within which Hume’s appeal to the calm passions may be justified: first, by the framework of theoretical virtues, and secondly, by lights of his own ‘rules by which to judge of causes and effects’ (THN 1.3.15).
Keywords Hume  Conativism  Motivation  Passions  Simplicity  Theoretical Virtues
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