Commentary on Pearson

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The Humean interpretation of Aristotle takes him to say that the goals of action are ultimately specified by desire. The Combo interpretation takes Aristotle to say that the goals of action are ultimately specified, sometimes by reason, other times by desire, and yet other times by both. I agree with Pearson that there are passages supporting each side and that the passages Pearson introduces into the debate support the Combo interpretation. To further support the Combo interpretation, I identify four features that Humeans want in a moral theory, and then show that a Humean interpretation of the passages bearing directly on the debate blocks the attribution of these features to Aristotle. A Humean interpretation may produce an Aristotle who is technically Humean, but this Aristotle will not accept the doctrines that make a Humean theory of motivation attractive to Humeans in the first place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Action
  • Aristotle
  • Desire
  • Humean
  • Motivation


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