Chapter

Reasons and Reactions

Roger Teichmann

in Nature, Reason, and the Good Life

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606177
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729461 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606177.003.0001
Reasons and Reactions

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Reasons for action are elicited by such a question as, ‘Why are you doing that?’, the rationale for which depends on the context in which it is asked. Contexts of enquiry have for their background a set of humanly intelligible needs and proclivities, including pre-rational impulses and attitudes, some of which constitute ethical bedrock. Hence practical rationality is necessarily anthropocentric, and critiques of ‘speciesism’ are misguided; though to the extent that we can feel those same pre-rational impulses towards animals, many ethical concepts apply to them. Impulses and attitudes of the sort in question are emotions, and are not to be conceived of as ‘inner states’, but as manifest in syndromes of behaviour, in a way that enables us to see how action and judgement are interconnected (pace Hume). Ethical judgement is informed by various ‘pictures’, e.g. of the human being, and such pictures can be incomplete or distorted.

Keywords: reasons; emotions; behaviour; bedrock; animals; speciesism; anthropocentric; pictures

Chapter.  23477 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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