Slaves of the passions * by mark Schroeder

Analysis 69 (3):574-576 (2009)
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Abstract

Like much in this book, the title and dust jacket illustration are clever. The first evokes Hume's remark in the Treatise that ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.’ The second, which represents a cross between a dance-step and a clinch, links up with the title and anticipates an example used throughout the book to support its central claims: that Ronnie, unlike Bradley, has a reason to go to a party – namely, that there will be dancing at the party – because Ronnie, unlike Bradley, loves dancing. So, the explanation of why Ronnie's and Bradley's reasons differ lies in their respective psychologies.Schroeder argues for a version of the Humean Theory of Reasons he calls Hypotheticalism, which says that every reason is explained by a desire in the same way as Ronnie's is. Schroeder argues that on almost every count, Hypotheticalism is as good as, or preferable to, the Humean and non-Humean alternatives; and he defends it against an array of objections. For example, he explains that while Hypotheticalism claims that ‘desires have to serve in the explanation of every reason because desires are part of the correct analysis of reasons’, it does not claim that a desire that explains a reason is part of that reason: rather it is a background condition for it. This, Schroeder argues, allows him to rebut a variety of objections that depend on conflating reasons with their background conditions. Other …

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Mark Schroeder
University of Southern California

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