R 3:30pm - 6:00pm
Practical reasoning aims to settle the question what to do. It is traditionally contrasted with theoretical reasoning, which aims to settle the question what to believe. But some argue that practical reasoning is but a kind—perhaps a special kind—of theoretical reasoning, issuing in beliefs—perhaps of a special kind—about what one ought to, or will, do. This seminar will provide an overview of some of the main debates around practical reasoning and rationality in metaethics and the philosophy of action over the last half century or so. Many of these debates may be viewed as addressing aspects of the question whether there is a genuine distinction between practical and theoretical reasoning, and if so how to draw it. We will consider the following proposals: that the "formal object" of practical reasoning is the good, whereas that of theoretical reasoning is the true; that practical reasoning must have a desire among its starting points whereas theoretical reasoning cannot; that practical reasoning concludes in a distinctively practical mental state; that practical reasoning concludes in an action; that there are distinctively practical forms of inference. We will conclude by considering some positions on the relationship between practical reasoning and morality.
Readings from the following authors: Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Anscombe, Gilbert Ryle, Donald Davidson, Agnes Callard, Richard Moran, Bernard Williams, John Broome, David Velleman, Michael Bratman, Gilbert Harman, Candace Vogler, Anselm Müller, Christine Korsgaard, John McDowell, Philippa Foot, and others.