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In (practical) deliberation we aim to decide what to do by considering reasons to act. Deliberation of this sort raises many questions, including: (i) What is the relationship between deliberation and acting for reasons? For instance, is deliberation necessary for acting for a reason? (ii) To what extent is it possible for us to take into account things other than reasons for and against doing A in deliberating about whether to A? What explains any such restriction? (iii) What kind of freedom, if any, is presupposed in deliberation? (iv) What is the relationship between rational deliberation and rational action? For instance, does rational deliberation which concludes in a decision to A ensure that it is rational to A? (v) What kinds of factors make for rational deliberation? Is deliberation about whether to A rational only insofar as it responds to reasons for and against A-ing? Or do other factors – for instance, about the benefits of being disposed to deliberate in certain ways – also bear on the rationality of deliberation? Some philosophers have also discussed the possibility of doxastic deliberation – deliberation about what to believe. Some philosophers have argued that features of doxastic deliberation support the view that belief is essentially normative.

Key works For a very helpful recent discussion of (i), see Arpaly & Schroeder 2012. For discussion of (ii) see e.g. Hieronymi 2006Kavka 1983, and Shah 2008. Much of the literature on (iv) and (v) takes off from David Gauthier's work, especially Gauthier 1986Morris & Ripstein 2001 is a very useful collection of essays on Gauthier's work. Much of the recent debate about doxastic deliberation begins with Shah 2003.
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  1. Frederick Adams (1989). Book Review:Intention, Plans and Practical Reason. Michael E. Bratman. [REVIEW] Ethics 100 (1):198-.
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  2. Matthew D. Adler (1999). Ruth Chang, Ed., Incommensurability, Incomparability and Practical Reason Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 19 (3):168-171.
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  3. George Ainslie (2010). Procrastination, the Basic Impulse. In Chrisoula Andreou Mark D. White (ed.), The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination. Oxford 11--27.
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  4. Robert Alexy (1992). A Discourse-Theoretical Conception of Practical Reason. Ratio Juris 5 (3):231-251.
    Contemporary discussions about practical reason or practical rationality invoke four competing views which can be named as follows by reference to their historical models: Aristotelian, Hobbesian, Kantian and Nietzschean. The subject-matter of this article is a defence of the Kantian conception of practical rationality in the interpretation of discourse theory. At the heart, lies the justification and the application of the rules of discourse. An argument consisting of three parts is pre sented to justify the rules of discourse. The three (...)
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  5. Roman Altshuler & Michael J. Sigrist (eds.) (2016). Time and the Philosophy of Action. Routledge.
    Although scholarship in philosophy of action has grown in recent years, there has been little work explicitly dealing with the role of time in agency, a role with great significance for the study of action. As the articles in this collection demonstrate, virtually every fundamental issue in the philosophy of action involves considerations of time. The four sections of this volume address the metaphysics of action, diachronic practical rationality, the relation between deliberation and action, and the phenomenology of agency, providing (...)
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  6. Lyle V. Anderson (1985). Moral Dilemmas, Deliberation, and Choice. Journal of Philosophy 82 (3):139-162.
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  7. Chrisoula Andreou (2015). Parity, Comparability, and Choice. Journal of Philosophy 112 (1):5-22.
    It is often supposed that, given two potential objects of choice X and Y, a specific set of circumstances, and a specific choosing agent, one of the following must be true: (1) opting for X is a better choice than opting for Y, (2) opting for Y is a better choice than opting for X, or (3) opting for X and opting for Y are exactly equally good choices. My aim in this paper is to show how some philosophical insights (...)
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  8. Chrisoula Andreou (2014). Temptation, Resolutions, and Regret. Inquiry 57 (3):275-292.
    Discussion of temptation has figured prominently in recent debates concerning instrumental rationality. In light of some particularly interesting cases in which giving in to temptation involves acting in accordance with one’s current evaluative rankings, two lines of thought have been developed: one appeals to the possibility of deviating from a well-grounded resolution, and the other appeals to the possibility of being insufficiently responsive to the prospect of future regret. But the current appeals to resolutions and regret and some of the (...)
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  9. Chrisoula Andreou (2009). Taking on Intentions. Ratio 22 (2):157-169.
    I propose a model of intention formation and argue that it illuminates and does justice to the complex and interesting relationships between intentions on the one hand and practical deliberation, evaluative judgements, desires, beliefs, and conduct on the other. As I explain, my model allows that intentions normally stem from pro-attitudes and normally control conduct, but it is also revealing with respect to cases in which intentions do not stem from pro-attitudes or do not control conduct. Moreover, it makes the (...)
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  10. Chrisoula Andreou (2006). Temptation and Deliberation. Philosophical Studies 131 (3):583-606.
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  11. Chrisoula Andreou (2006). Standards, Advice, and Practical Reason. Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (1):57-67.
    Is there a mode of sincere advice in which the standards of the adviser are put aside in favor of the standards of the advisee? I consider two sorts of cases that appear to be such that the adviser is evaluating things from within the advisee’s system of standards even though this system conflicts with her own; and I argue that these cases are best interpreted in ways that dissolve this appearance. I then argue that the nature of sincere advice (...)
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  12. Chrisoula Andreou (2006). Temptation and Deliberation. Philosophical Studies 131 (3):583 - 606.
    There is a great deal of plausibility to the standard view that if one is rational and it is clear at the time of action that a certain move, say M1, would serve one’s concerns better than any other available move, then one will, as a rational agent, opt for move M1. Still, this view concerning rationality has been challenged at least in part because it seems to conflict with our considered judgments about what it is rational to do in (...)
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  13. Chrisoula Andreou (2004). Instrumentally Rational Myopic Planning. Philosophical Papers 33 (2):133-145.
    Abstract I challenge the view that, in cases where time for deliberation is not an issue, instrumental rationality precludes myopic planning. I show where there is room for instrumentally rational myopic planning, and then argue that such planning is possible not only in theory, it is something human beings can and do engage in. The possibility of such planning has, however, been disregarded, and this disregard has skewed related debates concerning instrumental rationality.
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  14. Norbert Anwander (2001). Ruth Chang, Incommensurability, Incomparability and Practical Reason. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (2):193-195.
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  15. Nomy Arpaly (2004). Unprincipled Virtue. Journal of Ethics 8 (2):201-204.
    Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us--and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists--Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.
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  16. Nomy Arpaly (2003). Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency. Oxford University Press.
    Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us--and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists--Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.
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  17. Nomy Arpaly (2002). Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency. Oxford University Press Usa.
    Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us--and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists--Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.
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  18. Marcus Arvan (2015). How to Rationally Approach Life's Transformative Experiences. Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1199-1218.
    In a widely discussed forthcoming article, “What you can't expect when you're expecting,” L. A. Paul challenges culturally and philosophically traditional views about how to rationally make major life-decisions, most specifically the decision of whether to have children. The present paper argues that because major life-decisions are transformative, the only rational way to approach them is to become resilient people: people who do not “over-plan” their lives or expect their lives to play out “according to plan”—people who understand that beyond (...)
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  19. Susan Babbitt (1993). Feminism and Objective Interests: The Role of Transformation Experiences in Rational Deliberation. In Linda Alcoff & Elizabeth Potter (eds.), Feminist Epistemologies. Routledge 245--265.
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  20. Carla Bagnoli (2007). The Authority of Reflection. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (1):43-52.
    This paper examines Moran’s argument for the special authority of the first-person, which revolves around the Self/Other asymmetry and grounds dichotomies such as the practical vs. theoretical, activity vs. passivity, and justificatory vs. explanatory reasons. These dichotomies qualify the self-reflective person as an agent, interested in justifying her actions from a deliberative stance. The Other is pictured as a spectator interested in explaining action from a theoretical stance. The self-reflective knower has authority over her own mental states, while the Spectator (...)
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  21. Derek Baker (2015). Deliberators Must Be Imperfect. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (3):n/a-n/a.
    This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do . Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some (...)
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  22. David Barnett (2012). Future Conditionals and DeRose's Thesis. Mind 121 (482):407-442.
    In deciding whether to read this paper, it might seem reasonable for you to base your decision on your confidence (i) that, if you read this paper, you will become a better person. It might also seem reasonable for you to base your decision on your confidence (ii) that, if you were to read this paper, you would become a better person. Is there a difference between (i) and (ii)? If so, are you rationally required to base your decision on (...)
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  23. Donald Beggs (2013). The Moral Virtue of Doublemindedness. Philosophy 88 (3):411-432.
    The conscientious are morally conflicted when their moral dilemmas or incommensurabilities, real or apparent, have not been resolved. But such doublemindedness need not lead to ethical disintegration or moral insensitivity. For one may develop the moral virtue of doublemindedness, the settled power to deliberate and act well while morally conflicted. Such action will be accompanied by both moral loss (perhaps ) and ethical gain (salubrious agental stability). In explaining the virtue's moral psychology I show, among other things, its consistency with (...)
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  24. Simon Blackburn (1995). Practical Tortoise Raising. Mind 104 (416):695-711.
    In this paper I am not so much concerned with movements of the mind, as movements of the will. But my question bears a similarity to that of the tortoise. I want to ask whether the will is under the control of fact and reason, combined. I shall try to show that there is always something else, something that is not under the control of fact and reason, which has to be given as a brute extra, if deliberation is ever (...)
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  25. Martijn Boot (2009). Parity, Incomparability and Rationally Justified Choice. Philosophical Studies 146 (1):75 - 92.
    This article discusses the possibility of a rationally justified choice between two options neither of which is better than the other while they are not equally good either (‘3NT’). Joseph Raz regards such options as incomparable and argues that reason cannot guide the choice between them. Ruth Chang, by contrast, tries to show that many cases of putative incomparability are instead cases of parity—a fourth value relation of comparability, in addition to the three standard value relations ‘better than’, ‘worse than’ (...)
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  26. Lisa Bortolotti (2009). The Epistemic Benefits of Reason Giving. Theory and Psychology 19 (5):1-22.
    There is an apparent tension in current accounts of the relationship between reason giving and self knowledge. On the one hand, philosophers like Richard Moran (2001) claim that deliberation and justification can give rise to first-person authority over the attitudes that subjects form or defend on the basis of what they take to be their best reasons. On the other hand, the psychological evidence on the introspection effects and the literature on elusive reasons suggest that engaging in explicit deliberation or (...)
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  27. Michael Bratman (2007). Anchors for Deliberation. In Christoph Lumer & Sandro Nannini (eds.), Intentionality, deliberation and autonomy: the action-theoretic basis of practical philosophy. Ashgate Publishing
    This chapter sketches a model of deliberation that is anchored in plan-like commitments of the agent, commitments that constitute a form of valuing. These anchors need not be inescapable, they can sensibly vary from person to person, they can stand in complex relations to judgments about the good, and they play basic roles in the coss-temporal organization of practical thought and action. And deliberation so understood is, I conjecture, central to autonomy and self-government. The model sketched here is located in (...)
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  28. Michael E. Bratman (2014). Temptation and the Agent’s Standpoint. Inquiry 57 (3):293-310.
    Suppose you resolve now to resist an expected temptation later while knowing that once the temptation arrives your preference or evaluative assessment will shift in favor of that temptation. Are there defensible norms of rational planning agency that support sticking with your prior intention in the face of such a shift at the time of temptation and in the absence of relevant new information? This article defends the idea that it might be rational to stick with your prior intention in (...)
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  29. Michael E. Bratman (2009). Intention, Practical Rationality, and Self‐Governance. Ethics 119 (3):411-443.
  30. Michael E. Bratman (2000). Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency. Philosophical Review 109 (1):35-61.
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  31. Michael E. Bratman (1997). Responsibility and Planning. Journal of Ethics 1 (1):27-43.
    We are planning agents and we are, or so we suppose, responsible agents. How are these two distinctive aspects of our agency related? In his "Freedom and Resentment" Peter Strawson understands responsible agency in terms of "reactive attitudes" like resentment and gratitude, attitudes which are normally embedded in "ordinary inter-personal relationships." I draw on Strawson''s account to sketch an answer to my question about responsibility and planning. First, the fact that an action is plan-embedded can influence the agent''s (...)
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  32. Michael E. Bratman (1992). Planning and the Stability of Intention. Minds and Machines 2 (1):1-16.
    I sketch my general model of the roles of intentions in the planning of agents like us-agents with substantial resource limitations and with important needs for coordination. I then focus on the stability of prior intentions: their rational resistance to reconsideration. I emphasize the importance of cases in which one's nonreconsideration of a prior intention is nondeliberative and is grounded in relevant habits of reconsideration. Concerning such cases I argue for a limited form of two-tier consequentialism, one that is restricted (...)
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  33. Michael E. Bratman (1992). Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context. Mind 101 (401):1-16.
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  34. Keith Breen, Frank Canavan, Gerard Casey, Heike Felzmann, Thomas Gil, Karsten Harries, Richard Hull, Sebastian Lalla, Elizabeth Langhorne, Thomas Nisters, Felix O'Murchadha & Fran O'Rourke (2012). Politics of Practical Reasoning: Integrating Action, Discourse, and Argument. Lexington Books.
    This book treats practical and political reasoning as an active engagement with the world and other people; it cannot be understood as exclusively cognitive and this is seen as a virtue rather than a deficiency. Informal, emotional, characterological, aesthetic and interactional aspects of thought can be constituents of reasonable arguing. The work examines key capacities connected with argumentation, in a variety of fields from professional and medical ethics to work organization and the practice of art.
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  35. Talbot Brewer (2011). The Retrieval of Ethics. Oxford University Press Uk.
    Talbot Brewer presents an invigorating new approach to ethical theory, in the context of human selfhood and agency. The first main theme of the book is that contemporary ethical theorists have focused too narrowly on actions and the discrete episodes of deliberation through which we choose them, and that the subject matter of the field looks quite different if one looks instead at unfolding activities and the continuous forms of evaluative awareness that carry them forward and that constitute an essential (...)
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  36. Sarah Broadie (1998). Beginnings and Ends of Aristotelian Deliberation. In Jyl Gentzler (ed.), Method in Ancient Philosophy. Clarendon Press
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  37. John Broome (2013). Rationality Through Reasoning. Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Rationality Through Reasoning_ answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather than something that happens in us Gives (...)
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  38. John Broome (2013). Rationality Through Reasoning. Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Rationality Through Reasoning_ answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather than something that happens in us Gives (...)
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  39. John Broome (2013). Rationality Through Reasoning. Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Rationality Through Reasoning_ answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather than something that happens in (...)
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  40. John Broome (2006). Reasoning with Preferences? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59 (59):183-208.
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  41. John Broome (2001). Are Intentions Reasons? And How Should We Cope with Incommensurable Values. In Christopher W. Morris & Arthur Ripstein (eds.), Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier. Cambridge University Press 98--120.
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  42. John Broome (1997). Is Incommensurability Vagueness? In Ruth Chang (ed.), Incommensurability, Incomparability and Practical Reason. Harvard University Press
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  43. Brian D. Brost (2015). “The Argument has Made the Decision”: Deliberation in Plato’s Crito. Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (1):167-175.
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  44. Michael Byron (2005). Simon 's Revenge: Or, Incommensurability and Satisficing. Analysis 65 (288):311–315.
    Fifty years ago, Herbert Simon complained that the available models of rational choice were not feasible decision procedures for agents like us. These models involved variants on the theme of maximizing expected utility: the rational action for an agent is the one that is most likely to bring about outcomes that the agent prefers. Simon ’s complaints about these models included the now-familiar notions that human beings do not manage probabilities well, that we have at best radically incomplete utility functions, (...)
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  45. Erik Carlson (2002). Deliberation, Foreknowledge, and Morality as a Guide to Action. Erkenntnis 57 (1):71-89.
    In Section 1, I rehearse some arguments for the claim that morality should be ``action-guiding'', and try to state the conditions under which a moral theory is in fact action-guiding. I conclude that only agents who are cognitively and conatively ``ideal'' are in general able to use a moral theory as a guide to action. In Sections 2 and 3, I discuss whether moral ``actualism'' implies that morality cannot be action-guiding even for ideal agents. If actualism is true, an ideal (...)
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  46. Paul Carron (2015). Commentary on “‘The Argument has Made the Decision’: Deliberation in Plato’s Crito”. Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2):53-57.
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  47. Jacoby Adeshei Carter & Sarah Louise Scott (2013). When Reason Fails Us: How We Act and What We Do When We Do Not Know What to Do. The Pluralist 8 (1):63-96.
    An important feature of so-called rational decision making, at least in times of crisis, is arational: that is, our ability to decide manifests features of our characters or the values we hold rather than our reasoning abilities.1 Such a position stands in obvious opposition to the Western philosophical tradition. Consider, by comparison, the view of Immanuel Kant, who held that reason could, and perhaps sometimes ought to, operate independently of (and in opposition to) our sentiments. Contrary to Kant, William James (...)
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  48. David K. Chan (2010). Reasoning Without Comparing. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):153-164.
    One philosophical reason for denying that there are incomparable practical options is that consequentialist moral choices are made using the Method of Comparison . Since there are serious reservations about consequentialism, a more compelling second reason to deny incomparability is that practical reason and the justifiability of choice seem to be limited by the possibility of comparing alternatives. This paper focuses on this second reason for denying incomparability. There are two senses to this comparability requirement, namely, any choice made with (...)
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  49. Ruth Chang (2012). Are Hard Choices Cases of Incomparability? Philosophical Issues 22 (1):106-126.
    This paper presents an argument against the widespread view that ‘hard choices’ are hard because of the incomparability of the alternatives. The argument has two parts. First, I argue that any plausible theory of practical reason must be ‘comparativist’ in form, that is, it must hold that a comparative relation between the alternatives with respect to what matters in the choice determines a justified choice in that situation. If comparativist views of practical reason are correct, however, the incomparabilist view of (...)
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  50. Ruth Chang (2009). Reflections on the Reasonable and the Rational in Conflict Resolution. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):133 - 160.
    Most familiar approaches to social conflict moot reasonable ways of dealing with conflict, ways that aim to serve values such as legitimacy, justice, morality, fairness, fidelity to individual preferences, and so on. In this paper, I explore an alternative approach to social conflict that contrasts with the leading approaches of Rawlsians, perfectionists, and social choice theorists. The proposed approach takes intrinsic features of the conflict—what I call a conflict's evaluative 'structure'—as grounds for a rational way of responding to that conflict. (...)
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