Setiya on intention, rationality and reasons

Analysis 69 (3):510-521 (2009)
‘The idea that there are standards of practical reason apart from or independent of good character,’ Kieran Setiya trenchantly argues, ‘is a philosophical mirage’. 1 Setiya's argument in this fine book is a striking blend of philosophy of action and normative philosophy. A central claim is that the intention is a special kind of belief. I want both to challenge that claim and to reflect on a subtle argument in its favour that is in the background.1.Practical thinking, as understood by Setiya, includes the thinking that is involved in ‘the motivation of action done for reasons …, the balancing of reasons …, and the forming and revising of intentions and desires’ . Dispositions of practical thinking are traits of character. So, we can evaluate a given disposition of practical thought by appealing to general standards of good character and asking whether that disposition of practical thought is good as a trait of character. The ‘Virtue Theory’ says that all standards of practical reason are, at bottom, the reflection of standards of good traits of character as those standards of good character are applied to, in particular, dispositions of practical thinking.What Setiya calls ‘rationalism’ is a theoretical alternative to the Virtue Theory. The idea is to find certain features of practical thinking that are essential to intentional agency, and then to show that these essential modes of practical thinking, without further appeal to general standards of good character, support standards of practical reason that apply to all cases of intentional agency.To assess such rationalism, we need a theory of intentional agency and of the practical thinking that is essential to it. According to Setiya, this theory will need to …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp081
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Gary Watson (1975). Free Agency. Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.

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Kieran Setiya (2009). Intention. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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