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Practical Reason

Edited by Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)
Assistant editor: Benjamin Elliott Wald (University of Toronto)
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  1. Robert M. Adams & James Joyce (forthcoming). Common Sense and Beyond. Animus.
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  2. Chrisoula Andreou & Sergio Tenenbaum (eds.) (2016). Belief, Action and Rationality Over Time. Routledge.
    Action theorists and formal epistemologists often pursue parallel inquiries regarding rationality, with the former focused on practical rationality, and the latter focused on theoretical rationality. In both fields, there is currently a strong interest in exploring rationality in relation to time. This exploration raises questions about the rationality of certain patterns over time. For example, it raises questions about the rational permissibility of certain patterns of intention; similarly, it raises questions about the rational permissibility of certain patterns of belief. While (...)
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  3. Julia Annas (1981). An Introduction to Plato's Republic. Oxford University Press.
    This interpretive introduction provides unique insight into Plato's Republic. Stressing Plato's desire to stimulate philosophical thinking in his readers, Julia Annas here demonstrates the coherence of his main moral argument on the nature of justice, and expounds related concepts of education, human motivation, knowledge and understanding. In a clear systematic fashion, this book shows that modern moral philosophy still has much to learn from Plato's attempt to move the focus from questions of what acts the just person ought to perform (...)
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  4. David Ardagh (2012). Presuppositions of Collective Moral Agency. Philosophy of Management 11 (2):5-28.
    This is the second of three papers with the overall title: “A Quasi-Personal Alternative to Some Anglo-American Pluralist Models of Organisations: Towards an Analysis of Corporate Self-Governance for Virtuous Organisations”.1 In the first paper, entitled: “Organisations as quasi-personal entities: from ‘governing’ of the self to organisational ‘self ’-governance: a Neo-Aristotelian quasi-personal model of organisations”, the artificial corporate analogue of a natural person sketched there, was said to have quasi-directive, quasi-operational and quasi-enabling/resource-provision capacities. Its use of these capacities following joint deliberation (...)
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  5. Bradshaw Frederick Armendt (1983). Rational Decision Theory: The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
    In recent years rational decision theories such as Richard Jeffrey's, which recommend that an agent act so as to maximize his conditional expected utility, have come under attack on the grounds that they are unable to adequately handle certain kinds of decision problems. Because of their general structure, these problems are sometimes known as "causal counterexamples" to the theories; well-known examples are Newcomb's problem, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and Fisher's smoking gene problem. Several versions of "causal decision theory" have been presented (...)
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  6. Michael Bacharach (1987). A Theory of Rational Decision in Games. Erkenntnis 27 (1):17 - 55.
  7. Andrew Bacon (2011). A Paradox for Supertask Decision Makers. Philosophical Studies 153 (2):307.
    I consider two puzzles in which an agent undergoes a sequence of decision problems. In both cases it is possible to respond rationally to any given problem yet it is impossible to respond rationally to every problem in the sequence, even though the choices are independent. In particular, although it might be a requirement of rationality that one must respond in a certain way at each point in the sequence, it seems it cannot be a requirement to respond as such (...)
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  8. Derek Clayton Baker, Akrasia and the Problem of the Unity of Reason.
    Joseph Raz and Sergio Tenenbaum argue that the Guise of the Good thesis explains both the possibility of practical reason and its unity with theoretical reason, something Humean psychological theories may be unable to do. This paper will argue, however, that Raz and Tenenbaum face a dilemma: either the version of the Guise of the Good they offer is too strong to allow for weakness of will, or it will lose its theoretical advantage in preserving the unity of reason.
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  9. Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2014). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...)
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  10. Federica Basaglia (2016). The Highest Good and the Notion of the Good as Object of Pure Practical Reason. In Thomas Höwing (ed.), The Highest Good in Kant’s Philosophy. De Gruyter 17-32.
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  11. Robert W. Beard (1969). Nicholas Rescher, Ed., The Logic of Decision and Action. [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 3 (2):159.
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  12. Nathan Berg (2014). The Consistency and Ecological Rationality Approaches to Normative Bounded Rationality. Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (4):375-395.
    This paper focuses on tacit versus explicit uses of plural performance metrics as a primary methodological characteristic. This characteristic usefully distinguishes two schools of normative analysis and their approaches to normative interpretations of bounded rationality. Both schools of thought make normative claims about bounded rationality by comparing the performance of decision procedures using more than one performance metric. The consistency school makes tacit reference to performance metrics outside its primary axiomatic framework, but lexicographically promotes internal axiomatic consistency as the primary, (...)
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  13. Tilmann Betsch & Carsten Held (2012). Rational Decision Making: Balancing RUN and JUMP Modes of Analysis. Mind and Society 11 (1):69-80.
    Rationality in decision making is commonly assessed by comparing choice performance against normative standards. We argue that such a performance-centered approach blurs the distinction between rational choice and adaptive behavior. Instead, rational choice should be assessed with regard to the way individuals make analytic decisions. We suggest that analytic decisions can be made in two different modes in which control processes are directed at different levels. In a RUN mode, thought is directed at controlling the operation of a decision strategy. (...)
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  14. Oliver Board (2006). The Equivalence of Bayes and Causal Rationality in Games. Theory and Decision 61 (1):1-19.
    In a seminal paper, Aumann (1987, Econometrica 55, 1–18) showed how the choices of rational players could be analyzed in a unified state space framework. His innovation was to include the choices of the players in the description of the states, thus abolishing Savage’s (1954, The Foundations of Statistics. Wiley, New York) distinction between acts and consequences. But this simplification comes at a price: Aumann’s notion of Bayes rationality does not allow players to evaluate what would happen were they to (...)
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  15. Giacomo Bonanno (2008). A Syntactic Approach to Rationality in Games with Ordinal Payoffs. In Giacomo Bonanno, Wiebe van der Hoek & Michael Wooldridge (eds.), Logic and the Foundations of Game and Decision Theory. Amsterdam University Press
    We consider strategic-form games with ordinal payoffs and provide a syntactic analysis of common belief/knowledge of rationality, which we define axiomatically. Two axioms are considered. The first says that a player is irrational if she chooses a particular strategy while believing that another strategy is better. We show that common belief of this weak notion of rationality characterizes the iterated deletion of pure strategies that are strictly dominated by pure strategies. The second axiom says that a player is irrational if (...)
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  16. Darren Bradley (2013). Decision Theory, Philosophical Perspectives. In Hal Pashler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Mind. Sage
    Decision theory is concerned with how agents should act when the consequences of their actions are uncertain. The central principle of contemporary decision theory is that the rational choice is the choice that maximizes subjective expected utility. This entry explains what this means, and discusses the philosophical motivations and consequences of the theory. The entry will consider some of the main problems and paradoxes that decision theory faces, and some of responses that can be given. Finally the entry will briefly (...)
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  17. Svend Brinkmann (2010). The Ethical Subject: Accountability, Authorship, and Practical Reason. SATS 11 (1).
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  18. Justin Broakes (ed.) (2011). Iris Murdoch, Philosopher. OUP Oxford.
    Iris Murdoch was a notable philosopher before she was a notable novelist and her work was brave, brilliant, and independent. She made her name first for her challenges to Gilbert Ryle and behaviourism, and later for her book on Sartre (1953), but she had the greatest impact with her work in moral philosophy--and especially her book The Sovereignty of Good (1970). She turned expectantly from British linguistic philosophy to continental existentialism, but was dissatisfied there too; she devised a philosophy and (...)
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  19. Danielle Bromwich (2013). Motivational Internalism and the Challenge of Amoralism. European Journal of Philosophy 24 (1).
    Motivational internalism is the thesis that captures the commonplace thought that moral judgements are necessarily motivationally efficacious. But this thesis appears to be in tension with another aspect of our ordinary moral experience. Proponents of the contrast thesis, motivational externalism, cite everyday examples of amoralism to demonstrate that it is conceptually possible to be completely unmoved by what seem to be sincere first-person moral judgements. This paper argues that the challenge of amoralism gives us no reason to reject or modify (...)
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  20. Daniel G. Campos (2016). The Role of Diagrammatic Reasoning in Ethical Deliberation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 51 (3):338-357.
    In the 1903 lecture “What Makes a Reasoning Sound?” Charles Peirce provides a detailed account of the process of ethical deliberation intended to shape right conduct. He does this in the context of arguing against the claim that there is no distinction between moral right and wrong. He considered the argument for this claim to be analogous to the argument for the claim that there is no distinction between good and bad reasoning.1 Though Peirce’s ultimate concern in the lecture is (...)
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  21. James Cargile (1984). Review of Rational Decision and Causality. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):163-168.
  22. Fabrizio Cariani, Marc Pauly & Josh Snyder (2008). Decision Framing in Judgment Aggregation. Synthese 163 (1):1 - 24.
    Judgment aggregation problems are language dependent in that they may be framed in different yet equivalent ways. We formalize this dependence via the notion of translation invariance, adopted from the philosophy of science, and we argue for the normative desirability of translation invariance. We characterize the class of translation invariant aggregation functions in the canonical judgment aggregation model, which requires collective judgments to be complete. Since there are reasonable translation invariant aggregation functions, our result can be viewed as a possibility (...)
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  23. Ruth Chang (2016). “Comparativism: The Ground of Rational Choice,” in Errol Lord and Barry McGuire, Eds., Weighing Reasons , 2016. In B. Maguire & E. Lord (eds.), Weighing Reasons. Oxford 213-240.
    What, normatively speaking, are the grounds of rational choice? This paper defends ‘comparativism’, the view that a comparative fact grounds rational choice. It examines three of the most serious challenges to comparativism: 1) that sometimes what grounds rational choice is an exclusionary-type relation among alternatives; 2) that an absolute fact such as that it’s your duty or conforms to the Categorial Imperative grounds rational choice; and 3) that rational choice between incomparables is possible, and in particular, all that is needed (...)
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  24. Michael Cholbi (2016). The Denial of Moral Dilemmas as a Regulative Ideal. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):268-289.
    The traditional debate about moral dilemmas concerns whether there are circumstances in which an agent is subject to two obligations that cannot both be fulfilled. Realists maintain there are. Irrealists deny this. Here I defend an alternative, methodologically-oriented position wherein the denial of genuine moral dilemmas functions as a regulative ideal for moral deliberation and practice. That is, moral inquiry and deliberation operate on the implicit assumption that there are no genuine moral dilemmas. This view is superior to both realism (...)
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  25. Matthew Chrisman (2016). What is This Thing Called Metaethics? Routledge.
    Are moral standards relative to cultures? Are there any moral facts? What is goodness? If there are moral facts how do we learn about them?_ _These are all questions in metaethics, the branch of ethics that investigates the status of morality, the nature of ethical facts, and the meaning of ethical statements. To the uninitiated it can appear abstract and far removed from its two more concrete cousins, ethical theory and applied ethics, yet it is one of the fastest-growing and (...)
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  26. Stephen Cohen (2004). The Nature of Moral Reasoning: The Framework and Activities of Ethical: The Framework and Activities of Ethical Deliberation, Argument, and Decision—Making. Oxford University Press Anz.
    The Nature of Moral Reasoning is a discussion about the landscape, or environment, in which moral reasoning occurs. The book engages the reader in an examination of the processes involved in thinking about moral matters. The theoretical underpinnings of moral reasoning are explained carefully in the context of an examination about what it means to engage in the central activity of moral reasoning. The discussion is both theoretical and practical and is about where moral reasoning is located, and how it (...)
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  27. Gavin Terence Colvert (1995). Aquinas on Rationality, Freedom and Deformed Choice. Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    This dissertation assesses Thomas Aquinas' response to the problem of whether agents can rationally choose to pursue one course of action when they believe another course is better and open to them. The core of the problem lies in the conceptual connection often made between desirability and normative standards of goodness. Given this connection, it is apparently contradictory to claim that a person can rationally choose to do what he or she desires rather than what he or she thinks best, (...)
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  28. Terry Connolly & Jochen Reb (2012). Regret Aversion in Reason-Based Choice. Theory and Decision 73 (1):35-51.
    This research examines the moderating role of regret aversion in reason-based choice. Earlier research has shown that regret aversion and reason-based choice effects are linked through a common emphasis on decision justification, and that a simple manipulation of regret salience can eliminate the decoy effect, a well-known reason-based choice effect. We show here that the effect of regret salience varies in theory-relevant ways from one reason-based choice effect to another. For effects such as the select/reject and decoy effect, both of (...)
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  29. Roger M. Cooke (1982). Risk Assessment and Rational Decision Theory. Dialectica 36 (4):329-351.
    SummaryI contend on both theoretical and historical grounds that quantitative risk assessment is relevant for policy determination only as a cost estimate. In particular, it provides a method for estimating the costs of a hypothetical insurance policy against the potential liabilities associated with a given course of action. It is not relevant to the question of rational choice under risk.RésuméJe montre, en partant d'arguments aussi bien théoriques qu'historiques, que le calcul quanti‐tatif des risques n'aide à la détermination d'une politique à (...)
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  30. Jana L. Craft (2013). A Review of the Empirical Ethical Decision-Making Literature: 2004–2011. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 117 (2):221-259.
    This review summarizes the research on ethical decision-making from 2004 to 2011. Eighty-four articles were published during this period, resulting in 357 findings. Individual findings are categorized by their application to individual variables, organizational variables, or the concept of moral intensity as developed by Jones :366–395, 1991). Rest’s four-step model for ethical decision-making is used to summarize findings by dependent variable—awareness, intent, judgment, and behavior. A discussion of findings in each category is provided in order to uncover trends in the (...)
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  31. Steven DeLay (2016). The Toiling Lily: Narrative Life, Responsibility, and the Ontological Ground of Self-Deception. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (1):103-116.
    In this essay, I argue that genuine responsibility and ethical self-understanding are possible without narrative—or, at least, that narrative is not always sufficient. In §2, I introduce and clarify a distinction between our ontological subjectivity and everyday practical identity—one made famous by Heidegger and Sartre. On the basis of this distinction, in §3 I argue that narrative is unable to ground ethical choice and decision. For, although acting in light of practical identities is something we do, it cannot wholly capture (...)
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  32. Julien Deonna, Christine Clavien & Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, Affective Intentionality and Practical Rationality.
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  33. Tom Dougherty (2015). Future-Bias and Practical Reason. Philosophers' Imprint 15 (30).
    Nearly everyone prefers pain to be in the past rather than the future. This seems like a rationally permissible preference. But I argue that appearances are misleading, and that future-biased preferences are in fact irrational. My argument appeals to trade-offs between hedonic experiences and other goods. I argue that we are rationally required to adopt an exchange rate between a hedonic experience and another type of good that stays fixed, regardless of whether the hedonic experience is in the past or (...)
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  34. Igor Douven (2011). Decision Theory and Rationality, José Luis Bermúdez. Oxford University Press, 2009. 189 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 27 (1):59-64.
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  35. N. G. E. (1947). Judicial Decision and Practical Judgment. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):51-52.
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  36. Anna-Maria A. Eder (2011). Decision Theory and Rationality. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (3):326-329.
  37. Ellery Eells (1982). Rational Decision and Causality. Cambridge University Press.
    In past years, the traditional Bayesian theory of rational decision making, based on subjective calculations of expected utility, has faced powerful attack from philosophers such as David Lewis and Brian Skyrms, who advance an alternative causal decision theory. The test they present for the Bayesian is exemplified in the decision problem known as 'Newcomb's paradox' and in related decision problems and is held to support the prescriptions of the causal theory. As well as his conclusions, the concepts and methods of (...)
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  38. Seena Eftekhari (2016). Aristotle on Woman’s Capacity for Practical Reason. Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (1):85-91.
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  39. Jon Elster (2012). Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions. Cambridge University Press.
    Jon Elster has written a comprehensive, wide-ranging book on the emotions in which he considers the full range of theoretical approaches. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy and psychology, Elster presents a complete account of the role of the emotions in human behaviour. While acknowledging the importance of neurophysiology and laboratory experiment for the study of emotions, Elster argues that the serious student of the emotions can learn more from the great thinkers and writers of the past, from Aristotle to Jane (...)
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  40. Jon Elster (1983). Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
    Sour Grapes aims to subvert orthodox theories of rational choice through the study of forms of irrationality. Dr Elster begins with an analysis of the notation of rationality, to provide the background and terms for the subsequent discussions, which cover irrational behaviour, irrational desires and irrational belief. These essays continue and complement the arguments of Jon Elster's earlier book, Ulysses and the Sirens. That was published to wide acclaim, and Dr Elster shows the same versatility here in drawing on philosophy, (...)
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  41. Stephen Engstrom (2009). The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative. Harvard University Press.
    Introduction -- Part I: Willing as practical knowing -- The will and practical judgment -- Fundamental practical judgments : the wish for happiness -- Part II: From presuppositions of judgment to the idea of a categorical imperative -- The formal presuppositions of practical judgment -- Constraints on willing -- Part III: Interpretation -- The categorical imperative -- Applications -- Conclusion.
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  42. Stephen P. Engstrom (2009). IV. The Formal Presuppositions of Practical Judgment. In The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative. Harvard University Press 97-128.
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  43. Luca Ferrero, Inescapability Revisited.
    According to constitutivism, the objective authority of practical reason is to be grounded in the constitutive features of agency. In this paper, I offer a brief survey of the basic structure of constitutive argument about objectivity and consider how constitutivism might dispel the worry that it can only ground a *conditional* kind of authority. In response to Enoch's original shmagency challenge, in the past I argued that the inescapability of agency shows that we should not be worried by challenges that (...)
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  44. K. Fine & Nicholas Rescher (1970). The Logic of Decision and Action. Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):287.
    The four main essays in this volume investigate new sectors of the theory of decision, preference, act-characteristics, and action analysis. Herbert A. Simon applies tools developed in the theory of decision-making to the logic of action, and thereby develops a novel concept of heuristic power. Adapting ideas from utility and decision theory, Nicholas Rescher proposes a logic of preference by which conflicting theories proposed by G. H. von Wright, R. M. Chisholm, and others can be systematized. Donald Davidson discusses difficulties (...)
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  45. John Finnis (2011). Reason in Action: Collected Essays Volume I. OUP Oxford.
    Reason in Action collects John Finnis's work on practical reason and moral philosophy. Ranging from foundational issues of meta-ethics to modern ethical debates, the essays trace the emergence and development of his new classical theory of natural law through close engagement with a broad range of contemporary thinkers and problems.
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  46. Andrew Fisher (2011). Metaethics: An Introduction. Acumen.
    Do moral facts exist? What would they be like if they did? What does it mean to say that a moral claim is true? What is the link between moral judgement and motivation? Can we know whether something is right and wrong? And is morality a fiction? " Metaethics : An Introduction" presents a very clear and engaging survey of the key concepts and positions in what has become one of the most exciting and influential fields of philosophy. Free from (...)
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  47. Andrew Fisher (ed.) (2006). Arguing About Metaethics. Routledge.
    Arguing about Metaethics collects together some of the most exciting contemporary work in metaethics in one handy volume. In it, many of the most influential philosophers in the field discuss key questions in metaethics: Do moral properties exist? If they do, how do they fit into the world as science conceives it? If they don't exist, then how should we understand moral thought and language? What is the relation between moral judgment and motivation? As well as these questions, this volume (...)
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  48. Jonathan Floyd (forthcoming). Raz on Practical Reason and Political Morality. Jurisprudence:1-20.
    This article examines the relationship between Raz's theories of practical reason and political morality. Raz believes the former underpins the latter, when in fact it undermines it. This is because three core features of his theory of practical reason – desires, goals, and competitive pluralism––combine in such a way as to undermine a core feature of his theory of political morality––what Raz calls our autonomy-based duty to provide everyone with what he takes to be an adequate range of valuable life (...)
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  49. Philippa Foot (2002). Moral Dilemmas. Oxford University Press Uk.
    Moral Dilemmas is the second volume of collected essays by the eminent moral philosopher Philippa Foot, gathering the best of her work from the late 1970s to the 1990s. It fills the gap between her famous 1978 collection Virtues and Vices and her acclaimed monograph Natural Goodness, published in 2001. In this new collection Professor Foot develops further her critique of the dominant ethical theories of the last fifty years, and discusses such topics as the nature of moral judgement, practical (...)
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  50. Peter Fossey (2015). Desire and Value in Practical Reasoning. Dissertation, University of Warwick
    Intentional actions are those which are performed because the subject sees something to be said for performing them; the subject sees performing the action “in a positive light”. Intentional actions are therefore susceptible to a distinctive kind of explanation, which explains them as intentional; that is, which accounts for them in terms of their unique property, of being performed because the subject sees that there is something to be said for doing so. Practical reasoning is the process of figuring out (...)
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