chapter  2
2 Pages

Validity and the ‘Moderate’ Version

As we saw earlier, this version, reflecting the instrumentalist strand in Hume’s thought, is based on a theory of motivation with which we are not only familiar, but to which, since it is the dominant theory today, we may well already subscribe. By contrast, the claim entailed by the second premiss on the ‘extreme’ reading, namely that reason can have no influence at all on action, is at least obscure, if not, as many hold, absurd or ‘obviously false’ (Harrison, 1976: 11). Before therefore embarking on the lengthy task of trying to illuminate this claim – perhaps by uncovering a network of ideas against the background of which it would make sense – and then somehow defending it, we should be certain that the ‘moderate’ version of the argument cannot be salvaged.