chapter  2
16 Pages

Hume and the instrumentalist conception of practical reasoning

David Hume said much about the nature and scope of reason, but spoke little of what I have called practical reasoning, and the term seldom if ever occurs in his major works. He did say much about kindred topics, however, and his writings implicitly contain a conception of practical reasoning. In formulating it I shall concentrate on A Treatise of Human Nature, but in places it will help to consider An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. I shall also connect Hume’s view on some points with Aristotle’s and, later, Kant’s; but my purpose in discussing Hume is not mainly comparative. His views on practical thinking are among the most important in the field. As in the case of Aristotle, I make no claim to give a detailed overall interpretation; I seek only to offer a plausible reading of a number of his central points.