Practical conflicts pervade human life. They arise in various domains, take many different forms, and pose a challenge, in varying degrees and intensities, to the rationally deliberating agent.
In this collection, analyses of practical conflicts in the various forms and domains in which they arise are gathered together for the first time. The aim is to provide a comprehensive basis for understanding their exact sources, the challenge they therefore pose to an adequate conception of practical reason, and how (ultimately) this challenge can be met – if, in fact, it can be met. Practical conflicts thereby provide a lens through which questions about the scope of practical reason come into focus.
There are many different reasons for action that can conflict with one another. The list of items that give rise to potentially conflicting reasons is long and might even appear open-ended. Consider, for example: desires, preferences, emotions, interests, goals, plans, commitments, values, virtues, obligations, and moral norms. After all, agents have many different desires, goals, and values; they subscribe to a variety of ideals and principles and accept different normative or moral commitments. Because all these different reasons are action-guiding claims, we call conflicts between them “practical conflicts.” In contrast, the conflicts that arise, for example, between scientific theories and contradictory empirical evidence are often described as “theoretical” – having more to do with reasons to believe something and leaving the connection with action rather remote.