, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 455-462

Response to Mark Schroeder’s Slaves of the passions

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This is one of the most imaginative books I have read in a long time.

Why Humeanism?

Schroeder starts from an example, the example of Ronnie and Bradley. Ronnie likes to dance and Bradley does not. So Ronnie has a reason to go to the party, since there will be dancing there, but Bradley has no such reason, dancing being not his thing at all. What can we learn from this example? Schroeder takes it for granted that at least some reasons are explained by psychological features in this way (Ronnie likes to dance, Bradley doesn’t) and tries to persuade us that in fact all reasons are to be so explained.

What he does is to build up a subtle and sophisticated form of Humeanism, which he calls Hypotheticalism, with its own account of what it is to be a reason and how such things are explained, and an account of the weight of a reason. He then argues that this account is not only immune to the apparently overwhelming objections that have dogged other forms of Humeanism, but is also superior to any