Practical Reason, Value and Action

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy

Abstract

How should we decide which theory of practical reason is correct? One possibility is to link each conception of practical reason with a theory of value, and to assess the first in combination with the second. Recently some philosophers have taken a different approach. They have tried to link theories of practical reason with theories of action instead. I try to show that it can be illuminating to think of practical reason in terms of the success conditions of action, but ultimately this is in addition to, rather than a substitute for, relating practical reason to value as well. I set out three different conceptions of action and corresponding success conditions, and explain how each is linked to a particular conception of practical reason and, in two cases, to a theory of value too. My goal is to describe these different accounts, rather than to defend any in particular, though I will suggest that some are more satisfactory than others.

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