Procedural And Substantive Practical Rationality

Brad Hooker and Bart Streumer

in The Oxford Handbook of Rationality

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195145397
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:
 Procedural And Substantive Practical Rationality

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This article explains the distinction between procedural and substantive practical rationality. According to proceduralism, an agent is open to rational criticism for lacking a desire only if she fails to have a desire that she can rationally reach from her beliefs and other desires, whereas according to substantivism, an agent is open to such criticism not only if her desires fail procedurally, but also if they fail substantively—where, for example, an agent who lacks the desire to take curative medicine might be substantively irrational in virtue of this lack, and yet be procedurally rational because she cannot rationally reach this desire from her beliefs and other desires. This article discusses the proceduralist views of Hume, Brandt, and Williams, before turning to substantivist arguments. It concludes by noting the advantages of following Scanlon in being a proceduralist about practical rationality but a substantivist about practical reasons.

Keywords: practical rationality; proceduralism; substantivism; Hume; Brandt; Williams

Article.  7324 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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