Aristotle on Practical Reasoning

A. W. Price

in Virtue and Reason in Plato and Aristotle

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609611
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731846 | DOI:
Aristotle on Practical Reasoning

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Practical thinking is thinking inherently for the sake of action and/or of achieving some end. A provisional end is proposed to reason in context by desire (ideally schooled in virtue). phronēsis, or practical wisdom, then explores whether the end is achievable in context, and whether it is acceptably achievable, i.e. in a way that will amount to acting well. Choice is neither guided by the conception of a grand end specifying what fills the bill of eudaimonia, nor determined by the application of general principles (though these may play some role, either as side-constraints, or as conveying standing concerns). A practical syllogism sets out what the agent can do, or is doing, for what – it links ends and means. Other thinking may weigh alternatives, or discard some end as not acceptably achievable. It is a pity that Aristotle aspires to present practical inferences as deductive.

Keywords: practical; reasoning; inference; virtue; phronēsis; principle; syllogism; necessity; ‘must’; Broadie; McDowell

Chapter.  30657 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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