The "Should" Of full practical reason

Philosophical Books 48 (2):124-135 (2007)
In Ethics and the A Priori Michael Smith discusses two types of claims that invoke the term ‘should.’ The first type invokes the ‘should’ of instrumental reason (shouldIR) and the second type invokes the should of full practical reason (shouldFPR). I argue that these are not mutually exhaustive categories. There is a third type of should-claim that does not fall into either category, such as when we say to someone who is going to smoke, ‘You should smoke low tar cigarettes.’ This third type of should-claim aims, in a sense, at damage control. By comparing it to shouldFPR-claims, I show that shouldFPR-claims cannot be, contrary to what Smith suggests, even partly based on defects of character such as an agent’s irrational anger. Smith also claims that what I shouldFPR do is determined by the strongest desire my fully rational self would have, where a necessary condition of being fully rational is having no false beliefs and all relevant true beliefs. I point out that on such a view the connection between shouldFPR-claims and criticizability is lost and the connection between shouldFPR-claims and the agent’s abilities is lost. I sketch out an alternative view of shouldFPR-claims that retains these connections and on which the shouldFPR is constrained by the beliefs it is reasonable to require that agent to have.
Keywords practical reason  instrumentl reason  should
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