Change in view: sensitivity to facts in prospective rationality

In Giancarlo Marchetti & Sarin Marchetti (eds.), The Contingency of Fact and the Objectivity of Values. Londra, Regno Unito: pp. 137-158 (2016)

Carla Bagnoli
University of Modena
Rational agents often make progress by revisiting their previous judgments about what to believe and what to do. In fact, practical reasoning in general may be thought to be a complex activity by which we bring what matters into view. On this construal of practical reasoning, the process of revision takes center stage, and it often includes (even though it is not limited to) rethinking and re-describing the facts of the matter. Sensitivity to facts is thus an important aspect of practical and theoretical rationality. However, it is far from obvious what “sensitivity to facts” consists in, and what sorts of capacities it requires rational agents to exercise. I will argue that among these capacities, emotional engagement figures prominently. This occurs when agents are actively—though emotionally—involved with aspects of the scenario they are thinking about. Emotional engagement importantly contributes to practical reasoning in general insofar as it contributes to changing view and revising judgment and decision. In particular, emotional engagement with the circumstances of action is a crucial component of deliberation. The upshot of this argument is that to account for the impact of emotional engagement and, consequently, to make sense of ordinary functions of reasoning, one has to overcome the sharp distinction between facts and values. In this chapter, I offer a constructivist account of practical reasoning as an activity that is transformative, taking up the plea for the study of reasoning as an activity of revision and change in view, argued by philosophers as diverse as Iris Murdoch and Gilbert Harman. Within this context, I account for the role of sensitivity to facts, claiming that sensitivity to facts, understood as emotional engagement, is partially constitutive of facts. I consider both the epistemological and ontological aspects of this claim.
Keywords emotions  practical reasoning  fact sensitivity  transformation  emotional engagement
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