Practical unreason

  • Pettit P
  • Smith M
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Abstract

Most approaches to practical unreason treat the phenomenon as a practical failure that is not distinctively a failure of reason--say,as a loss of autonomy or control--or as a failure of reason that is not distinctively practical: say, as a form of inattention or illogic. This paper describes an approach under which the failure can be both a practical failure and a failure of reason. The authorsbegin with a picture of human psychology under which action is alwaysthe product of belief and desire but is also answerable to deliberative judgment. They find room for practical unreason, properly understood, in the gap that can open between the properties that an agent finds deliberatively compelling --the properties that, were he rational and informed, he would want himself to desire--and the properties that actually arouse his desires and move him to action. The possibility of this gap opening up is documented by reference to five broadly different varieties of practical unreason.

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Authors

  • Philip Pettit

  • Michael Smith

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