chapter  5
13 Pages

Practical reasoning and intentional action

A paradigm case of intentional action is action based on practical reasoning. The agent considers a goal, realizes that A-ing is required to achieve it, concludes in favor of A-ing, and straightaway As. If the correspondence thesis-the view that for every intentional action there is a corresponding practical argument-is correct, then there is some plausibility in the further claim that every intentional action is based on reasoning which expresses that argument. Call this second thesis inferentialism, since it posits a piece of practical reasoning, thus an actual inference, as essential in the genesis of every intentional action. Inferentialism has been maintained,1 and there is much to be learned from assessing it. To simplify matters, let us consider it where it is most plausible: for intentional action performed for a further end rather than for its own sake, as where we swim for our health and not simply for pleasure.