, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 445-453
Date: 02 Nov 2010

Mark Schroeder’s Hypotheticalism: agent-neutrality, moral epistemology, and methodology

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Mark Schroeder’s Slaves of the Passions is the most systematic defense yet constructed of a broadly ‘Humean’ conception of normative reasons for action, according to which all of one’s reasons are ultimately explained by facts about one’s psychology. This, however, radically undersells the book, which is breathtaking in its scope, originality, and density of powerful ideas. So: if you care about deep questions in ethics, you should read it. It is also rhetorically Humean, written so engagingly that even those without prior interest in its subject may enjoy thinking through such a superb example of philosophical argument.

Despite admiring much in this book, I will play the usual role of symposium commentator here, and focus on sketching three brief objections to Schroeder’s account, in the hopes that they will spur him to develop and clarify his views. Section 1 argues that Schroeder’s crucial account of agent-neutral reasons cannot be made to work. Section 2 argues that a core element o ...