Anton Ford
University of Chicago
Modern philosophers writing on action and practical reasoning rarely discuss perception. This is remarkable, not only because acting on the particular objects in one’s environment obviously requires a perceptual awareness of them, but also because perception is central to the account of action and practical reasoning offered by Aristotle, from whom many contemporary philosophers take their inspiration. The pivotal role that Aristotle assigned to perception is now uniformly given to belief, an act of mind or propositional attitude that might concern particulars, but that might equally well concern general laws of nature, probabilities, or rules of logic. This paper aims to recover and demystify the idea of a practical perception. On the one hand, it argues that in order to mediate between a general end and an action performed in pursuit of that end, the minor premise of practical reasoning must concern particulars and must therefore be perceptual. On the other hand, it argues that this same minor premise must be practical, in the sense that it must represent the particular objects about which the agent is reasoning as constituting a field of obstacles and opportunities, or of things to be avoided and pursued
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DOI 10.1524/dzph.2013.0033
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