Normative practical reasoning

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In the first part I discuss the thesis, advanced by John Broome, that intentions are normatively required by all-things-considered judgments about what one ought to do. I endorse this thesis, but remain sceptical about Broome's programme of grounding the correctness of reasoning in formal relations between contents of mental states. After discussing objections to the thesis, I concentrate in the second part on the relation between rational action and rational intention. I distinguish between content-related and attitude-related reasons for propositional attitudes like believing, wanting, and intending something. The former appeal to features of the content of the propositional attitude they are reasons for, the latter would be reasons for a propositional attitude because of features of the propositional attitude as a whole, for example the feature of its being beneficial to believe or to want that p. I try to show that the common philosophical reaction to attitude-related reasons, namely to claim that they are merely content-related reasons in disguise, is mistaken. In its most extreme form such a reaction would fail to respect the first-person character of reasoning which manifests itself in, among other things, the fact that a Moore-sentence and its analogue for intentions cannot be a conclusion of reasoning. In the third part I argue that there are attitude-related reasons for intentions, and, in showing how they influence practical deliberation, I find that their existence can be rendered compatible with the thesis that it is rational to intend to do what one thinks one ought to do.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-216
Number of pages21
JournalProceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

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