Understanding rationality in hobbes and hume

Hun Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Many commentators think that Hobbes was committed to an instrumental view of rationality which foreshadows that of David Hume. The Humean conception of instrumental rationality is a conjunction of the following two claims: (a) no preferences or desires can properly be said to be irrational in themselves, and (b) the role of reason or rationality can only be confined to informing the agent with true beliefs about the world, and revealing the most effective means that could satisfy the agent's current ends whatever they happen to be. In this paper, I argue that, unlike what many people think, a careful reading of Hobbes shows that he was committed to neither of these claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-696
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Hobbes
  • Hume
  • Instrumental rationality
  • Practical rationality
  • The humean view of rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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