chapter  4
18 Pages

The varieties and basic elements of practical reasoning

Historically, practical reasoning has been conceived as a kind of means-end reasoning. This conception is prominent in Aristotle, and we saw it, though less explicitly, in Hume and Kant. But even in Aristotle the conception is not developed sharply, and we certainly have not noted any specific means-end pattern that all three take every instance of practical reasoning to have. The unifying notions I have used in characterizing practical reasoning also leave open just what pattern, if any, is unique to such reasoning. Those notions are chiefly (though not exclusively) these: first, practical reasoning is undertaken in order to determine, or at least plays a purposive role in determining (or in trying to determine), what to do; second, it expresses at least one reason for action (at least a reason of a motivational kind); third, it is, in some way, suitable for producing action that is in line with its content.