Robert Brandom claims that language expressing pro-attitudes makes explicit proprieties of practical inference. This thesis is untenable, especially given certain premises which Brandom himself endorses. Pro-attitude vocabulary has the wrong grammatical structure; other parts of vocabulary do the job he ascribes to pro-attitude vocabulary; the thesis introduces implausible differences between the inferential consequences of desires and intentions, and distorts the interpretation of conditional statements. Rather, I suggest, logical vocabulary can make proprieties of practical inference explicit, just as the inferentialist says (...) it can for theoretical inference. (shrink)
Inferences from desired ends to intended necessary means seem to be among the most unproblematic elements of practical reasoning. A closer look dissolves this appearance, however, when we see that such inferences are defeasible. We can nevertheless understand such inferences as leading to the adoption of plans, by analogy with inferences leading to explanations. Plans should satisfy at least some important ends desired by the agent, be consistent with the satisfaction of other desired ends, and be inconsistent with as few (...) desired ends as possible. A rational plan may rule out the satisfaction of some desires, however, and this feature explains the defeasibility of such inferences. (shrink)
The 'fitting-attitudes analysis' aims to analyze evaluative concepts in terms of attitudes, but suffers from the 'wrong kind of reasons' problem. This article critiques some suggested solutions to the WKR problem and offers one of its own, which appeals to the aims of attitudes. However, goodness is not a concept that can be successfully analyzed according to the method suggested here. Reasons are given why goodness should be thought of, instead, as a mind-independent property.
“S ought (not) to see to it that p at t” is true iff an intention on the part of S to see to it that p at t is (in) correct. From this truth condition follows an understanding of the conceptual role of ought-claims in practical inference: ought-claims are interchangeable with intentions having the same content. From this conceptual role, it is quite clear why first-person, present-tense ought-judgments, and just those, motivate: failure to be motivated is a failure of (...) rationality. The point and purpose of 'ought' is mainly to express the results of practical reasoning performed on premises held hypothetically, an exercise of which there are many varieties. Our capacity for normative thought and language is a consequence of, and intimately related to, our capacity for practical thought. (shrink)
There is an intuition to the effect that, if human actions are explicable in scientific terms – that is, if mechanism holds – then our lives and actions do not matter. “Mattering” depends on successful intentional explanations of human actions. The intuition springs from an intuitive analogy between manipulation and mechanism: just as a manipulated agent's actions are not successfully explained in intentional terms, neither are the actions of a mechanistic agent. I explore ways to avoid the conclusion of this (...) argument. Some of these ways are more promising than others, but all have non-trivial philosophical consequences. (shrink)