Still waiting for a plausible Humean theory of reasons

Philosophical Studies 167 (3):607-633 (2014)
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In his important recent book Schroeder proposes a Humean theory of reasons that he calls hypotheticalism. His rigourous account of the weight of reasons is crucial to his theory, both as an element of the theory and constituting his defence to powerful standard objections to Humean theories of reasons. In this paper I examine that rigourous account and show it to face problems of vacuity and consonance. There are technical resources that may be brought to bear on the problem of vacuity but implementation is not simple and philosophical motivation a further difficulty. Even supposing vacuity is fixed, the problems of consonance bring to light a different obstruction lying in Schroeder’s path. There is a difference between the general weighing of reasons and the context specificity of the correct placing of weight on them in deliberation and this difference cannot be fixed by the resources in the account. For these reasons we are still waiting for a plausible Humean theory of reasons

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Nicholas Shackel
Cardiff University


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