Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-rvbq7 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-13T14:40:00.304Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

On the So-called Logic of Practical Inference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2022

Anthony O'Hear
Affiliation:
University of Buckingham
Rachael Wiseman
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
Get access

Summary

Different questions generate different forms of practical reasoning. A contextually unrestricted ‘What shall I do?’ is too open to focus reflection. More determinately, an agent may ask, ‘Shall I do X, or Y?’ To answer that, he may need to weigh things up—as fits the derivation of ‘deliberation’ from libra (Latin for ‘scales’). Ubiquitous and indispensable though this is, I mention it only to salute it in passing.1 Or he may ask how to achieve a proposed end: if his end is to do X, he may ask ‘How shall I do X?’ Or he may ask how to apply a universal rule or particular maxim.2 Aristotle supplies examples in De Motu Animalium (7.701a7 ff.), whose wording I freely adapt to my own purposes:

  • A1 reasons to a necessary means to achieving an end:

    • I will make a cloak.

    • To make a cloak I must do A.

    • So, I will do A.

  • A2 reasons to a sufficient means to achieving an end:

    • I will make something good.

    • A house is something good.

    • So, I will make a house.

  • B1 applies a universal rule:

    • Every man must walk.

    • I am man.

    • So, I must walk.

  • B2 applies a conditional that speaks of a particular agent at a certain time:

    • I will now make a cloak if I need one.

    • I need a cloak.

    • So, I will now make a cloak.

A paraphrase of ‘Every man must walk’ may bring out the affinity of B1 with B2: ‘For all x, if x is a man, x must walk.’ Both, therefore, involve reasoning from a hypothetical intention or requirement to a categorical one.

Type
Chapter
Information
Moral Philosophy , pp. 182 - 216
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×