Varieties of Practical Reasoning (MIT Press)
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Practical reasoning is the study of how to figure out what to do. It is of particular importance to ethics. Indeed, new developments in practical reasoning promise to break through long-standing ethical and moral dilemmas. Practical reasoning also has consequences for philosophy of mind, value theory, and the social sciences. This anthology provides an overview of this important area of philosophy.Over the past two decades the field of practical reasoning has changed rapidly, with a small number of entrenched positions giving way to a healthy profusion of competing views. This book covers a broad spectrum of positions on practical reasoning--from the nihilist view that there are no legitimate forms of practical inference, and hence no such thing as practical reasoning, to inferential expressivism, which holds that our desires express commitments to arbitrarily different kinds of practical inferences (as when the desire to stay dry makes explicit the commitment to inferring the need to carry an umbrella if rain is forecast). Underlying all the contributions is the question of how one should go about determining what the legitimate forms of practical reasoning are.
The point is that you need some inference rule or other, in addition to your beliefs, to draw inferences, but there isn’t any particular inference rule you need. It is not obvious what practical rules one might use as a general alternative to (M/E).9 This strategy might yield a principle, one having a status at least equal to (M/E), which itself has substantial moral content. It might, but I doubt it. When we ﬁrst looked at (M/E), we noted that it can be thought of in two ways. According to the
one would be engaging in rational practical deliberation if one were (a) ascertaining what way of satisfying some element in one’s subjective motivational set would be best in the light of the other elements in the set, (b) deciding which among conﬂicting elements in one’s subjective motivational set one attaches most weight to, or (c) ‘ﬁnding constitutive solutions, such as deciding what would make for an entertaining evening, granted that one wants entertainment’. (This account of rational
important characteristics that distinguish them from desires. First, they are 10 Elijah Millgram typically incomplete: your plan for ﬂying to Spain may include the intention of getting to the airport, but until the day arrives, it may well not include a subplan for getting to the airport, e.g., calling a taxi, waiting for it, getting in, and taking it there. Second, plans are supposed to be stable: normally, one reasons about how to execute and ﬁll in one’s plan, but not, unless special
305–316. Foot, P. 1995. ‘‘Does Moral Subjectivism Rest on a Mistake?’’ Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 15: 1–14. Frankena, W. 1976. ‘‘Obligation and Motivation in Recent Moral Philosophy.’’ In his Perspectives on Morality, edited by K. Goodpaster. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Gibbard, A. 1990. Wise Choices, Apt Feelings. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Goldsworthy, J. 1992. ‘‘Externalism, Internalism, and Moral Skepticism.’’ Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70: 40–60. Hare,
Reasoning ing civic and religious institutions in such a way as to prevent confrontation between the unwritten laws of family worship and the decrees of civil government. But because Protagoras denies the unity of the virtues, maintaining against Socrates that they are irreducibly heterogeneous in quality, he keeps alive the possibility of tragedy. (3) Finally, the speech recognizes the power of the passions as an ongoing danger for public morality. Here he speaks of the need for punishment;