Practical Reasoning About Final Ends

Practical Reasoning About Final Ends

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Henry Richardson argues that we can determine our ends rationally. He constructs a rich and original theory of how we can reason about our final goals. Richardson defuses the counter-arguments for the limits of rational deliberation, and develops interesting ideas about how his model might be extended to interpersonal deliberation of ends, taking him to the borders of political theory. Along the way Richardson offers illuminating discussions of, inter alia, Aristotle, Aquinas, Sidgwick, and Dewey, as well as the work of several contemporary philosophers.show more

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Review quote

'This profound and important book challenges a common assumption about rationality: that all rational deliberation involves the selection of instrumental means to ends that are set by some non-rational process, for example by desires that are themselves impervious to reasoning. Drawing resourcefully on arguments of Aristotle and Plato, Richardson constructs an impressive account of the rationality involved in our selection and modification of our ultimate ends, and particularly of the ways in which a vague end can be more and more adequately specified by reflection. In the process, he offers the best account I have seen of the arguments for and against the claim that all values can be measured by a single common metric.' Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago Law Schoolshow more

Table of contents

Part I. Problem: 1. Introduction; 2. Practical reasoning; Part II. Scope: 3. Ends in deliberation; 4. Specifying ends; Part III. System: 5. Value incommensurability; 6. Is commensurability a prerequisite of rational choice?; 7. Practical coherence; 8. Reflective sovereignty; Part IV. Source: 9. Sources and limits; 10. Ultimate ends; Part V. Disagreement: 11. Interpersonal deliberation; 12. Disagreement in concept and in practice; 13. Dialectical softening; 14. Realizing rationality.show more

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