Hume's Dispositional Account of the Self

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):644-657 (2017)
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This paper will argue that Hume's notion of the self in Book 2 of the Treatise seems subject to two constraints. First, it should be a succession of perceptions. Second, it should be durable in virtue of the roles that it plays with regard to pride and humility, as well as to normativity. However, I argue that these two constraints are in tension, since our perceptions are too transient to play these roles. I argue that this notion of self should be characterized as a bundle of dispositions to our perceptions, such that these dispositions are durable and counterfactual-supporting. I argue that Hume confused his ‘philosophical’ notion of dispositions, as nothing above and beyond their effects, with the thicker notion of dispositions to which the passions respond—which explains his mistaken commitment to the durability constraint.
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