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If practical reason is concerned with thoughtful normative regulation of action, then theoretical reason might be seen as a matter of thoughtful normative regulation of belief. The conclusion of a piece of practical reasoning, we are told, is an act or intention to act; the conclusion of a piece of theoretical reasoning, by parallel, would be a belief or a belief-tendency. Because theoretical reason is understood to be responsive specifically to epistemic – not merely pragmatic – reasons for belief, the norms involved in heoretical reason are norms pertinent to knowledge, including norms of evidence, justification, and truth. In both the practical and theoretical case we need not exactly agree with the conclusion another person reaches in order to attribute rationality to her – but it seems we do need to find something normatively appropriate about the means by which the other reaches her conclusion, given her capacities and circumstances.

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Peter Railton
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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