chapter  9
12 Pages

Practical reasoning and moral judgment

Part of the interest of the topic of practical reasoning lies in its major role in ethical theory. Ethical standards are meant to guide action, and they often do so by supplying premises for practical reasoning on particular occasions of moral decision. They also do this through their integration into practical reasoning that pervasively affects the agent’s conduct, as where we decide on how to deal with a relationship or a responsibility This chapter will explore these aspects of practical reasoning. The theory I have presented in earlier chapters describes how a practical judgment, including a moral one, must be related to the premises of practical reasoning on which it is based if it is to be rational in the light of them, and how an act, in turn, must be related to all of these elements if they are to support its rationality But although the theory clarifies the status of normative practical judgments, it does not specifically address moral ones. But practical reasoning has a major role in generating and supporting ethical decision and moral action. This chapter concerns this generation and support role. A framework of principles important for evaluating moral actions will also be introduced. I will not, however, explore their evaluation separately; on the basis of earlier chapters, I will assume that if a decision to A is rational at a given time, so is A-ing on the basis of that decision at that time.1