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Oxford Brookes Philosophy: Charles Pigden, 'Reason, the Slave of the Passio...

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Charles Pigden, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Otago, presents, 'Reason, the Slave of the Passions: What Hume Meant, Whether He Was Right, Why It Matters'.

One of the most cited sections in Hume’s Treatise is 2.3.3 ‘Of the Influencing Motives of the Will’. This is the locus for Hume’s famous claim ‘that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will’ or (more picturesquely) that ‘Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’. From this he draws the consequence that ‘since reason alone can never produce any action, or give rise to volition’, it is ‘incapable of preventing volition, or of disputing the preference with any passion or emotion’ What does he mean by this? What are his arguments? What part does this thesis play in his overall polemic against moral rationalism? And what is its relevance to current concerns?




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Blackwell's Bookshop

51 Broad Street

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OX1 3BQ

United Kingdom

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