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What is the relationship between theoretical and practical reason? For instance, might requirements of practical reason be grounded in requirements of practical reason, or vice-versa? Or do theoretical and practical reason form distinct domains? Other issues falling under this topic include questions about the similarities and differences between practical and theoretical reason, and about connections between them (for instance, about ways in which what you ought (have reason, justification…) to do depends on what you ought (have reason, justification…) to believe, and vice-versa).

Key works For influential defences of the idea that some or all requirements of practical reason are grounded in requirements of theoretical reason, see Harman 1997 and Velleman 1989. For discussion see Bratman 1991Setiya 2003, and Ross 2009. For discussion of the idea that requirements of epistemic reason are grounded in practical reason see Foley 1987 and Kelly 2003.
Introductions Wallace 2008Wiland 2012, and Brunero & Kolodny 2013 include some discussion of this topic.
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  1. G. E. M. Anscombe (1957/2000). Intention. Harvard University Press.
    This is a welcome reprint of a book that continues to grow in importance.
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  2. Robert Audi (2001). The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality. Oxford University Press.
    The literature on theoretical reason has been dominated by epistemological concerns, treatments of practical reason by ethical concerns. This book overcomes the limitations of dealing with each separately. It sets out a comprehensive theory of rationality applicable to both practical and theoretical reason. In both domains, Audi explains how experience grounds rationality, delineates the structure of central elements, and attacks the egocentric conception of rationality. He establishes the rationality of altruism and thereby supports major moral principles. The concluding part describes (...)
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  3. Tomás Barrero (2010). Razón, acción Y debilidad de la voluntad. Una lectura semántica. Ideas y Valores 59 (143):161-187.
    This paper develops some of Austin’s ideas on excuses, stressing their “dimensional” character and relating it to Searle’s distinction between intention-in-action and previous intention, in order to show that the original speech-act shaped distinction between weakness of the will and moral weakness can be embedded in a quite different theoretical framework such as Davidson’s, while Austin’s dimensional classification of actions cannot. Finally, the article analyzes how Grice’s critique of Davidson’s views on akrasia is more faithful to Austin and more radical (...)
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  4. John Bigelow & Michael Smith (1997). How Not to Be Muddled by a Meddlesome Muggletonian. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (4):511 – 527.
    Holton, we acknowledge, has given a good counter-example to a theory, and that theory is interesting and worth refuting. The theory we have in mind is like Smith's, but is more reductionist in spirit. It is a theory that ties value to Reason and to processes of reasoning, or inference - not to the recognition of reasons and acting on reasons. Such a theory overestimates the importance of logic, truth, inference, and thinking things through for yourself independently of any ideas (...)
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  5. Michael Bratman (2009). Intention, Belief, and Instrumental Rationality. In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press. 13--36.
    Two approaches to instrumental rationality Suppose I intend end E, believe that a necessary means to E is M, and believe that M requires that I intend M. My attitudes concerning E and M engage a basic requirement of practical rationality, a requirement that, barring a change in my cited beliefs, I either intend M or give up intending E.2 Call this the Instrumental Rationality requirement – for short, the IR requirement.
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  6. Michael E. Bratman (2014). Temptation and the Agent's Standpoint. Inquiry 57 (3):293-310.
  7. Michael E. Bratman (2009). Intention, Belief, Practical, Theoretical. In Simon Robertson (ed.), Spheres of Reason: New Essays in the Philosophy of Normativity. Oup Oxford.
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  8. Jason Bridges (2007). Review: The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (464):1083-1088.
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  9. John Broome (1999). Normative Requirements. Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
    Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...)
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  10. Jessica Brown (2008). Knowledge and Practical Reason. Philosophy Compass 3 (6):1135-1152.
    It has become recently popular to suggest that knowledge is the epistemic norm of practical reasoning and that this provides an important constraint on the correct account of knowledge, one which favours subject-sensitive invariantism over contextualism and classic invariantism. I argue that there are putative counterexamples to both directions of the knowledge norm. Even if the knowledge norm can be defended against these counterexamples, I argue that it is a delicate issue whether it is true, one which relies on fine (...)
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  11. Jessica Brown (2008). Subject‐Sensitive Invariantism and the Knowledge Norm for Practical Reasoning. Noûs 42 (2):167-189.
  12. John Brunero (2009). Against Cognitivism About Practical Rationality. Philosophical Studies 146 (3):311 - 325.
    Cognitivists about Practical Rationality argue that we can explain some of the (apparent) requirements of practical rationality by appealing to the requirements of theoretical rationality. First, they argue that intentions involve beliefs, and, second, they show how the theoretical requirements governing those involved beliefs can explain some of the practical requirements governing those intentions (or they show how these apparently practical requirements are actually theoretical requirements). This paper avoids the ongoing controversy about whether and how intentions involve beliefs and focuses (...)
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  13. John Brunero (2005). Instrumental Rationality and Carroll's Tortoise. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (5):557 - 569.
    Some philosophers have tried to establish a connection between the normativity of instrumental rationality and the paradox presented by Lewis Carroll in his 1895 paper “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles.” I here examine and argue against accounts of this connection presented by Peter Railton and James Dreier before presenting my own account and discussing its implications for instrumentalism (the view that all there is to practical rationality is instrumental rationality). In my view, the potential for a Carroll-style regress just (...)
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  14. Lara Buchak (2010). Instrumental Rationality, Epistemic Rationality, and Evidence-Gathering. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):85-120.
  15. Julian Fink (2013). What is (Correct) Practical Reasoning? Acta Analytica 28 (4):471-482.
    This paper argues that practical reasoning is a mental process which leads a person from a set of existent mental states to an intention. In Section 1, I defend this view against two other proposals according to which practical reasoning either concludes in an action itself or in a normative belief. Section 2 discusses the correctness of practical reasoning and explains how the correctness of instrumental reasoning can be explained by the logical relations that hold between the contents of the (...)
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  16. Patrick Fleming (2008). On a Purported Principle of Practical Reason. Journal of Philosophical Research 33:143-162.
    A number of philosophers are attracted to the Principle of the Priority of Belief (or PPB) in practical matters. PPB has two parts: (1) it is a principle of practical reason to adjust your desires in accordance with your evaluative beliefs and (2) you should not adjust your evaluative beliefs in accordance with your desires. The central claim of this principle is that beliefs rightly govern desires and that desires have no authority over beliefs. This paper advances conceptual and empiricalarguments (...)
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  17. Amber L. Griffioen (2007). Truthiness, Self-Deception, and Intuitive Knowledge. In Jason Holt (ed.), The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News. Blackwell.
    There are at least three basic phenomena that philosophers traditionally classify as paradigm cases of irrationality. In the first two cases, wishful thinking and self-deception, a person wants something to be true and therefore ignores certain relevant facts about the situation, making it appear to herself that it is, in fact, true. The third case, weakness of will, involves a person undertaking a certain action, despite taking herself to have an all-things-considered better reason not to do so. While I think (...)
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  18. Tim Henning (2013). Knowledge, Safety, and Practical Reasoning. In Tim Henning & David P. Schweikard (eds.), Knowledge, Virtue, and Action: Putting Epistemic Virtues to Work. Routledge.
  19. Risto Hilpinen (2007). On Practical Abduction. Theoria 73 (3):207-220.
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  20. Richard Holton, Inverse Akrasia and Weakness of Will.
    The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment shift -- to (...)
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  21. Thomas Kelly (2007). Evidence and Normativity: Reply to Leite. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):465–474.
    According to one view about the rationality of belief, such rationality is ultimately nothing other than the rationality that one exhibits in taking the means to one’s ends. On this view, epistemic rationality is really a species or special case of instrumental rationality. In particular, epistemic rationality is instrumental rationality in the service of one’s distinctively cognitive or epistemic goals (perhaps: one’s goal of holding true rather than false beliefs). In my (2003), I dubbed this view the instrumentalist conception of (...)
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  22. Thomas Kelly (2003). Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
    In this paper, I explore the relationship between epistemic rationality and instrumental rationality, and I attempt to delineate their respective roles in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. My primary concern is with the instrumentalist conception of epistemic rationality: the view that epistemic rationality is simply a species of instrumental rationality, viz. instrumental rationality in the service of one's cognitive or epistemic goals. After sketching the relevance of the instrumentalist conception to debates over naturalism and 'the ethics of belief', I argue (...)
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  23. Pauline Kleingeld (1998). Kant on the Unity of Theoretical and Practical Reason. Review of Metaphysics 52 (2):500-528.
    In his critical works of the 1780's, Kant claims, seemingly inconsistently, that (1) theoretical and practical reason are one and the same reason, applied differently, (2) that he still needs to show that they are, and (3) that theoretical and practical reason are united. I first argue that current interpretations of Kant's doctrine of the unity of reason are insufficient. But rather than concluding that Kant’s doctrine becomes coherent only in the Critique of Judgment, I show that the three statements (...)
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  24. Pauline Kleingeld (1998). The Conative Character of Reason in Kant's Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (1):77-97.
    This article provides a critical discussion of the problems raised by Kant’s characterization of reason as having ‘needs’ and ‘interests’. The first part presents two examples of arguments in which this conative characterization of reason plays a crucial role. The rest of the article consists of a discussion of four different interpretations of Kant's talk of reason as having needs and interests. Having identified a number of problems with literal interpretations of the conative characterization of reason, I examine whether a (...)
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  25. Barry Lam, A New Argument Against the Instrumental Conception of Epistemic Rationality.
    According to the Instrumental Conception of Epistemic Rationality believing rationally is believing in such a way so as to best satisfy one’s cognitive goals. I provide a novel argument against the Instrumental Conception on the basis of an unnoticed phenomenon I call “rational preemption.” You can now revise your plans and actions rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. However, you cannot now revise your beliefs rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. The ability (...)
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  26. Clayton Littlejohn (forthcoming). The Unity of Reason. In Clayton Littlejohn John Turri (ed.), Epistemic Norms: New Essays on Action, Belief, and Assertion.
    Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm (e.g., a justification or reasonable belief norm) ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might (...)
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  27. Clayton Littlejohn (2009). Must We Act Only on What We Know? Journal of Philosophy 106 (8):463-473.
    What relation is there between knowledge and action? According to Hawthorne and Stanley, where your choice is p-dependent, it is appropriate to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting iff you know that p (RKP). In this paper, I shall argue that it is permissible to treat something as a reason for action even if it isn't known to be true and address Hawthorne and Stanley's arguments for RKP.
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  28. Duncan MacIntosh (2010). Intransitive Preferences, Vagueness, and the Structure of Procrastination. In Chrisoula Andreou & Mark D. White (eds.), The Thief of Time. Oxford University Press.
    Chrisoula Andreou says procrastination qua imprudent delay is modeled by Warren Quinn’s self-torturer, who supposedly has intransitive preferences that rank each indulgence in something that delays his global goals over working toward those goals and who finds it vague where best to stop indulging. His pair-wise choices to indulge result in his failing the goals, which he then regrets. This chapter argues, contra the money-pump argument, that it is not irrational to have or choose from intransitive preferences; so the agent’s (...)
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  29. Duncan MacIntosh (1992). Buridan and the Circumstances of Justice (On the Implications of the Rational Unsolvability of Certain Co-Ordination Problems). Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):150-173.
    Gauthier and Hobbes reduce Prisoners Dilemmas to co-ordination problems (CPs). Many think rational, face-to-face agents can solve any CP by agreed fiat. But though an agent can rationally use a symmetry-breaking technique (ST) to decide between equal options, groups cannot unless their members' STs luckily converge. Failing this, the CP is escapable only by one agent's non-rational stubbornness, or by the group's "conquest" by an outside force. Implications: one's strategic rationality is group-relative; there are some optimums groups in principle cannot (...)
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  30. Thomas Magnell (2001). Educating for Practical Reasoning. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11:233-239.
    Some decisions can be made employing closed systems of practical reasoning. Other decisions require open systems of practical reasoning. These kinds of practical reasoning differ epistemically. Closed systems of practical reasoning can rely on thinking with a basis that is epistemically robust. Open systems of practical reasoning must also allow for thinking with a basis that is epistemically slight. In making moral and prudential decisions about what we are to make of our lives, we use open systems of practical reasoning (...)
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  31. Conor McHugh (2012). Control of Belief and Intention. Thought 1 (4):337-346.
    This paper considers a view according to which there are certain symmetries between the nature of belief and that of intention. I do not defend this Symmetry View in detail, but rather try to adjudicate between different versions of it: what I call Evaluative, Normative and Teleological versions. I argue that the central motivation for the Symmetry View in fact supports only a specific Teleological version of the view.
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  32. Rachel McKinnon (2012). What I Learned in the Lunch Room About Assertion and Practical Reasoning. Logos and Episteme 3 (4):565-569.
    It is increasingly argued that there is a single unified constitutive norm of both assertion and practical reasoning. The most common suggestion is that knowledge is this norm. If this is correct, then we would expect that a diagnosis of problematic assertions should manifest as problematic reasons for acting. Jennifer Lackey has recently argued that assertions epistemically grounded in isolated second-hand knowledge (ISHK) are unwarranted. I argue that decisions epistemically grounded in premises based on ISHK also seem inappropriate. I finish (...)
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  33. Rachel McKinnon (2011). Lotteries, Knowledge, and Practical Reasoning. Logos and Episteme 2 (2):225-231.
    This paper addresses an argument offered by John Hawthorne gainst the propriety of an agent’s using propositions she does not know as premises in practical reasoning. I will argue that there are a number of potential structural confounds in Hawthorne’s use of his main example, a case of practical reasoning about a lottery. By drawing these confounds out more explicitly, we can get a better sense of how to make appropriate use of such examples in theorizing about norms, knowledge, and (...)
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  34. Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (2004). Introduction: Aspects of Rationality. In Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality. Oxford University Press.
    This article examines the nature of rationality. The domain of rationality is customarily divided into the theoretical and the practical. Whereas theoretical or epistemic rationality is concerned with what it is rational to believe, and sometimes with rational degrees of belief, practical rationality is concerned with what it is rational to do, or intend or desire to do. This article raises some of the main issues relevant to philosophical discussion of the nature of rationality. Discussions of the nature of practical (...)
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  35. Anne Newstead (2004). Self-Conscious Self-Reference: An Approach Based on Agent's Knowledge (DPhil Manuscript). Dissertation, Oxford University
    This thesis proposes that an account of first-person reference and first-person thinking requires an account of practical knowledge. At a minimum, first-person reference requires at least a capacity for knowledge of the intentional act of reference. More typically, first-person reasoning requires deliberation and the ability to draw inferences while entertaining different 'I' thoughts. Other accounts of first-person reference--such as the perceptual account and the rule-based account--are criticized as inadequate. An account of practical knowledge is provided by an interpretation of GEM (...)
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  36. Emer O'Hagan (2005). Belief, Normativity and the Constitution of Agency. Philosophical Explorations 8 (1):39 – 52.
    In this paper I advance a constitutive argument for the authority of rational norms. Because accountability to reasons is constitutive of rational agency and rational norms are implicit in reasons for action and belief, the justification of rational norms is of a piece with the practice of reasoning. Peter Railton has objected that the constitutive view fails to defend the categorical authority of reason over agents. I respond to his objections, arguing that they presuppose a foundationalist conception of justification that (...)
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  37. Sarah K. Paul (2013). The Conclusion of Practical Reasoning: The Shadow Between Idea and Act. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):287-302.
    There is a puzzle about how to understand the conclusion of a successful instance of practical reasoning. Do the considerations adduced in reasoning rationalize the particular doing of an action, as Aristotle is sometimes interpreted as claiming? Or does reasoning conclude in the formation of an attitude – an intention, say – that has an action-type as its content? This paper attempts to clarify what is at stake in that debate and defends the latter view against some of its critics.
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  38. Joseph Raz (2009). Reasons : Practical and Adaptive. In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press.
    The paper argues that normative reasons are of two fundamental kinds, practical which are value related, and adaptive, which are not related to any value, but indicate how our beliefs and emotions should adjust to fit how things are in the world. The distinction is applied and defended, in part through an additional distinction between standard and non-standard reasons (for actions, intentions, emotions or belief).
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  39. Andrew Reisner (2009). Unifying the Requirements of Rationality. Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):243-260.
    This paper looks at the question of what form the requirements of practical rationality take. One common view is that the requirements of rationality are wide-scope, and another is that they are narrow-scope. I argue that the resolution to the question of wide-scope versus narrow-scope depends to a significant degree on what one expects a theory of rationality to do. In examining these expectations, I consider whether there might be a way to unify requirements of both forms into a single (...)
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  40. Johannes Roessler (2013). The Epistemic Role of Intentions. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (1):41-56.
    According to David Velleman, it is part of the ‘commonsense psychology’ of intentional agency that an agent can know what she will do without relying on evidence, in virtue of intending to do it. My question is how this claim is to be interpreted and defended. I argue that the answer turns on the commonsense conception of calculative practical reasoning, and the link between such reasoning and warranted claims to knowledge. I also consider the implications of this argument for Velleman’s (...)
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  41. Jacob Ross (2009). How to Be a Cognitivist About Practical Reason. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:243-281.
  42. Hans Rott (2011). Odd Choices: On the Rationality of Some Alleged Anomalies of Decision and Inference. Topoi 30 (1):59-69.
    This paper presents a number of apparent anomalies in rational choice scenarios, and their translation into the logic of everyday reasoning. Three classes of examples that have been discussed in the context of probabilistic choice since the 1960s (by Debreu, Tversky and others) are analyzed in a non-probabilistic setting. It is shown how they can at the same time be regarded as logical problems that concern the drawing of defeasible inferences from a given information base. I argue that initial appearances (...)
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  43. Nishi Shah & Matthew Silverstein (2013). Reasoning in Stages. Ethics 124 (1):101-113.
    Mark Schroeder has recently presented apparent counterexamples to the standard account of the distinction between the right and the wrong kinds of reasons. We argue that these examples appear to refute the standard account only because they blur the distinction between two kinds of reasoning: reasoning about whether to intend or believe that p and reasoning about whether to take up the question of whether to intend or believe that p.
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  44. Michael Smith (2007). Is There a Nexus Between Reasons and Rationality? Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 94 (1):279-298.
    When we say that a subject has attitudes that she is rationally required to have, does that entail that she has those attitudes for reasons? In other words, is there a deep nexus between being rational and responding to reasons? Many have argued that there is. For example, Derek Parfit tells us that 'to be rational is to respond to reasons' (Parfit 1997, p.99). But I am not so sure. I begin by considering this question in the domain of theoretical (...)
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  45. David Sobel & Steven Wall (2009). Introduction. In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press.
  46. David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.) (2009). Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press.
  47. David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.) (2009). Reasons for Action. Cambridge.
  48. Ernest Sosa (1966). On Practical Inference and the Logic of Imperatives. Theoria 32 (3):211-223.
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  49. Ernest Sosa (1966). The Logic of Imperatives. Theoria 32 (3):224-235.
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  50. Nicholas Southwood (2013). “The Thing To Do” Implies “Can”. Noûs 47 (3).
    A familiar complaint against the principle that “ought” implies “can” is that it seems that agents can intentionally make it the case that they cannot perform acts that they nonetheless ought to perform. I propose a related principle that I call the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can.” I argue that the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can” is implied by important but underappreciated truths about practical reason, and that it is not vulnerable to the familiar (...)
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