Does Hume Have an Instrumental Conception of Practical Reason?

Hume Studies 21 (1):57-74 (1995)

Many philosophers and social scientists regard the instrumental theory of practical reason as highly plausible, and standardly credit David Hume as the first philosopher to formulate this conception of reason clearly. Yet Hume does not advocate the instrumental conception of practical reason as that conception is normally understood by contemporary theorists who endorse it. Instead, Hume's view is that there is no such thing as "practical reason", that is, no such thing as a form of reason that has either motivational efficacy or normative authority with respect to action. While critics have appreciated Hume's denial of the motivational efficacy of reason, they have missed the way in which he is unwilling to credit reason with any authority to "tell us what to do"
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0319-7336
DOI 10.1353/hms.2011.0140
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