Living with reason

Inquiry 35 (2):199 – 217 (1992)
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to identify and partially defend a form of practical reason involved in a number of central cases of human action. Against the claims of rational choice theory that reasoning about action is primarily instrumental, it argues for a form of practical reason which allows for the indeterminate, open?ended and creative nature of the most important examples of human action. Rational choice theory not only gives a distorted account of the reasoning involved in these cases; it also ? and more fundamentally ? misconceives the nature of human agency. What moves us to act are characteristically not our ?preferences?, but our ?desires?, and the logic of desire is not that of means to end, but of narrative coherence. The paper also argues that rational choice theory fails to recognize the essentially social nature of rationality, and in its ambition to construct social theory on the basis of rational choice it fails to recognize the fundamental role of trust in social relationships
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