Practical and Theoretical Reason Practical reason defines a distinctive standpoint of reflection. When agents deliberate about action, they think about themselves and their situation in characteristic ways. What are some of the salient features of the practical point of view? A natural way to interpret this point of view is to contrast it with the standpoint of theoretical reason. The latter standpoint is occupied when we engage in reasoning that is directed at the resolution of questions that are in some sense theoretical rather than practical; but how are we to understand this opposition between the theoretical and the practical? One possibility is to understand theoretical reflection as reasoning about questions of explanation and prediction.
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Five Locusts This website is created to show discusstions on specific topics related to the epistemology branch in philosophy. They do not serve to flout or denounce any doctrines but to provide the readers with alternative ways to detect any defective ideas and to understand better philosophical matters.
In this article, Korsgaard mentions many philosophers such as Hume, Kant, Nagel and Williams as the ones whose ideas are related to practical reason that are close to her topic; however, Hume and Kant are the two traditional philosophers who get more of her attention than others. Essentially, her main ideas revolve around the doubt of how strong human action can be directed by reason and desire as well as the doubt about the scope of reason as a motive for human action which she calls motivation skepticism.
In short, she tries to argue that motivational skepticism must not always be based on content skepticism. In another word, to say that a desire is rational or irrational is a non-sense, but our standard rules that come from reason is effective in choosing the means to our ends. However, there is a limitation of practical reason in playing its role in choosing a means; that is it prevents reason from determining the ends and from ranking them.
Korsgaard says that Hume has proved against the modern philosophers who assert that we must regulate our conducts by reason by the following arguments: a reason by itself cannot provide any motivation for any action; and b reason never oppose passion in the direction of the will.
Since all reasons either concern the abstract connection of ideas or the connections of cause that we learn from experience and since the abstract connection of ideas are mathematical subjects no one supposes that they give rises to any motives. And we are moved by the perception of the causal connection only if there is a motive that exists previously in a case of event. The argument that reason cannot oppose a passion in the direction of the will depends on the argument that reason by itself cannot give rise to a motive, and only if reason leads us to a motivation that opposes a passion then it can oppose a passion.
What Hume means is the possible content of principles of reason that carry out action and the scope of its motivational force, and the answers for these matters are what Korsgaard wants to provide. The reason why an action is right and the motivation that we have for doing an action are two different things, but this falls out of the position of an internalist who asserts that the reason why an action is right is the reason that motivates us to act and is called practical reason.
Kant is one of the institutionists whose position is in the question that whether he is an internalist or an externalist.
Falk asserts that the difference between internalism and externalism as one of whether the moral command arises from a source outside the agent or from within. Since Kant takes the classified characteristic of autonomy and the imperative to be necessarily connected, Korsgaard also wants to take his view into consideration for her arguments.
Bernard Williams is also an internalist who argues that there are two kinds of reason claims: an internal claim and an external claim also asserts that only internal reasons really exist by giving an example that a person has a reason to do action A is a person who has a motive to do A, and this claim is of an internal claim.
Practical reason claims that if they are really to present us with reasons for action, then they must be capable of motivating rational person, and Korsgaard call this the internalist requirement. Reason is the faculty that judges of truth and falsehood, and it can judge our ideas to be true or false; however, passion is an original existence not a copy of anything: it cannot be true or false and therefore it cannot be reasonable or unreasonable.
There is no case in the two cases that Hume considers is a true irrational case: relative to their beliefs, people never act irrationally. However, Korsgaard says that there is something else one might mean in the second case which is that knowing the truth about the relevant causal relations, we might choose insufficient means to our end and fail to choose sufficient and available means to the end, and she calls that a true irrationality.
Hume indeed says this It is possible to imagine a sort of being who could engage in causal reasoning could engage in reasoning that would point out the means to the ends, but who was not motivated by it.
Kant, in a passage early in the Groundwork, imagines a human being in just such as condition of being able to reason theoretically but not practically. Kant says that The favored creature is portrayed as able to see that his actions are rational in the sense that they promote the means to his end of happiness; but he is not motivated by their reasonableness; he acts from his inctinct.
Reason allows him to admire the rational appropriateness of what he does, but this is not what gets him to do it -- he has the sort of attitude toward all his behavior that we in fact might have towards the involuntary well-functioning of our bodies. The motive force attached to the end must be transmitted to the means in order for this to be a consideration that sets the human body in motion. A practically rational person is not merely capable of performing certain rational mental operations, but capable also of transmitting motive force along the paths laid out by those operations.
But the internalism requirement does not imply that nothing can interfere with this motivational transmission. There seems to be plenty of things that could interfere with the motivational influence of a given rational consideration: rage, depression, distraction, physical and mental illnesses, and all of these things could cause us to act irrationally; that is, to fail to be motivationally responsive to the rational considerations available to us.
The necessity of rational considerations lies in those considerations themselves, not in us: that is, we will not necessarily be motivated by them. Rather, their necessity may lie in the fact that, when they do move us, they move us with the force of necessity. But it will not be the case that they necessarily move us. So a person may be irrational, not merely by failing to observe rational connections but also by being "willfully" blind to them, or even by being indifferent to them when they are pointed out.
In this respect, practical reason is no different from theoretical reason. Many things might cause us to fail to be convinced by a good argument. For Korsgaard, to be a theoretically rational person is not merely to be capable of performing logical and inductive propositions, but to be appropriately convinced by them: the conviction in the premises must carry through to a conviction in the conclusion: Thus, the internalism requirement for theoretical reasons is that they be capable of convincing us insofar as we are rational.
In order for a theoretical argument to have the status or reason, it must of course be capable of motivating or convincing a rational person, but it does not follow that it must AT ALL TIMES be capable of motivating or convincing any given individual. Many things can interfere with the functioning of the rational operations in a human body; thus there is no reason to deny that human beings might be practically irrational in the sense that Hume considers might be practically irrational: that, even with the truth of our disposal, we might from one cause or another to be interested in the means to our ends.
Korsgaard, Her speculation is that skepticism about practical reason is sometimes based on a false impression of what the internalism requirement requires. It does not require that rational considerations always suceed in motivating us.
All it requires is that rational considerations succeed in motivating us insofar as we are rational. And this means that theoretical reasons and practical reasons are equal only when we have a reason inside us that motivates us to do what theoretical reasons require us to do.
One can admit the possibility of true irrationality and yet still believe that all practical reasoning is instrumental. It is under the influence of this end that we weigh one possible satisfaction against another, trying to determine which conduces to our greater good for Hume says it is not contrary to reason to prefer an acknowledged lesser good to a greater one. In the case where a person chooses a lesser good, what the argument in favor of prudence would vary from theory to theory; here, the point is this: there is no doubt whether preferring a greater good is rational because someone may fail to be motivated by thinking that something will serve her greater, preferring a greater good may be irrational.
Not everything that drives us to conclusion is a theory, and not everything that drives us to action need to be a desired end. Rationality is a condition that human beings are capable of, but it is not a condition that we are always in. Thus, Aristotle and Kant are the two who most concerned with the methods of education.
Human beings must be taught to listen to reason because Kant says that we are imperfectly rational. The fact that a practical reason must be capable of motivating us might still seem to put a limitation on the scope of practical reason: it might be thought that it is a subjective matter which considerations can motivate a given individual and that, therefore, all judgments of practical reason must be conditional in form.
Internal reasons are reasons reached by deliberation from the subjective motivational set: they can motivate us because of their connection to that set. Anything reached by a process of deliberation from the subjective motivational set may be something for which there is an internal reason, one that can motivate. Reason must be able to produce an entirely new motive, the thing that Hume said could not be done. If one accepts the internalism requirement, it follows that pure practical reason will exist if and only if we are capable of being motivated by the conclusions of the operations of pure practical reason as such.
Williams seems to think that this is a reason for doubting whether pure practical reasons exist: if we can be motivated by considerations stemming from pure practical reason, then that capacity belongs to the subjective motivational set of every rational being. Nor can one assume that the subjective motivational set consists only of individual elements; for that is to close off without argument the possibility that reason could yield conclusions that every rational being must acknowledge and be capable of being motivated by.
Korsgaard then gives out an example that we consider the case of an agent who after being raised to live by a certain principle, comes to question it. Some doubt or argument has made her consider eliminating the principle from her subjective motivational set. Now what will she think? She may find that she thinks that people should have and act on such a principle that is in some rough way a good idea, and so she may retain it and even proceed to educate those under her influence to adopt it.
More to the point, what this kind of case shows is that for Williams as for Hume, the motivational skepticism depends on what Korsgaard calls the "content skepticism".
He thinks that if we then are able to show the existence of reasons, we will have shown something capable of motivating us. As Nagel points out, this approach also characterizes the moral philosophy of Kant. By the end of the Second Section of the Groundwork, Kant has done what he set out to do: he has shown us what sort of demand pure reason would make on action.
Working from the ideas that reason is general must be universal, that reason seeks the unconditioned, and that its binding force must derive from autonomy, has shown us what a law of pure reason that could applied to action would look like. However, until it has been shown that we can be motivated to act according to the categorical imperative, it has not been completely shown that the categorical imperative really exists-- that there really is a law of pure practical reason.
Kant does try to argue that we can be motivated by the categorical imperative appealing to the pure spnontaneity of reason as evidence for our intelligible nature and so for an autonomous will. He argues that we know that we are capable of being motivated by the categorical imperative and therefore that we know in a practical sense that we have an autonomous will.
Again, explorations into practical reason reveal our nature. It is important; however, that although in the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant does not try to argue that pure reason can be motivated, he has detailed things to say about how it can be motive -- about how it function as an incentive in combating other incentives.
Korsgaard, At the end of the essay, Korsgaard says that what she has attempted to show is that motivational considerations do not provide any reason for skepticism about practical reason. If a philosopher can show us that something that can be recognized as a law of reason, there is no special reason to doubt the human beings might be motivated by that consideration. However, she also realizes that the idea that an acknowledged reason can never fail to motivate is a strange idea and that it is based on some sort of misunderstanding, but she has also suggested that a misunderstanding of the internalism requirement is a possible account.
The correct response is that if someone discovers what are recognizably reasons that can affect conduct, and those reasons fail to motivate him, then that only shows the limits of our rationality. Kant maintained that, if we thought about it, we would see that we are not immune to the laws of pure practical reason: that we know we can do what we ought.
But there is no guarantee of this; for our knowledge or our motives is limited. The conclusion is that, if we are rational, we will act as the categorical imperative directs, but we are not necessarily rational. Thus, if there is a motivational skepticism about practical reason then it must depends on skepticism about the possible content of rational requirements as to whether this content could become a motivation that moves our inner desire to act. Rerferences Korsgaard, Christine M.
Creating the kingdom of Ends. New York: Cambridge University Press, Posted by.
KORSGAARD SKEPTICISM ABOUT PRACTICAL REASON PDF
Kajibei Internal aboyt are reasons reached by deliberation from the subjective motivational set: Against Pseudo-Arguments in Practical Philosophy. Hume indeed says this: In another word, to say that a desire is rational or irrational is a non-sense, but our standard rules that come from reason is effective in choosing the means to our ends. Michael Garnett — — Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 3: Nor can one assume that the subjective motivational set consists only of individual elements; for that is to close off without argument the possibility that reason could yield conclusions that every rational being must acknowledge and be capable of being motivated by. Christine M.
Five Locusts This website is created to show discusstions on specific topics related to the epistemology branch in philosophy. They do not serve to flout or denounce any doctrines but to provide the readers with alternative ways to detect any defective ideas and to understand better philosophical matters. In this article, Korsgaard mentions many philosophers such as Hume, Kant, Nagel and Williams as the ones whose ideas are related to practical reason that are close to her topic; however, Hume and Kant are the two traditional philosophers who get more of her attention than others. Essentially, her main ideas revolve around the doubt of how strong human action can be directed by reason and desire as well as the doubt about the scope of reason as a motive for human action which she calls motivation skepticism.