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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Hume said that reason alone cannot motivate and that passions are required to produce volitions and actions. It is argued that the widely, though not universally, held “Humean” view of motivation—that beliefs require desires to motivate actions—does not accurately reflect Hume’s own view. The author argues here that beliefs, especially beliefs about pleasure, do motivate. But beliefs are produced by probable reasoning. And this seems to imply that reason alone does motivate, i.e., produces, via beliefs, volitions and actions. It is argued that the seeming inconsistency that appears to result is only apparent. An interpretation of what Hume means by “reason alone” is provided.

Keywords: Hume, reason, belief, passions, motivation, will

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