Hume argues that whenever we seem to be motivated by reason, there are unnoticed calm passions that play this role instead, a move that is often criticised as ad hoc. In response, some commentators propose a conceptual rather than empirical reading of Hume’s conativist thesis, either as a departure from Hume, or as an interpretation or rational reconstruction. 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”.
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DOI 10.1515/agph-2018-4003
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