James David Velleman Practical Reflection

ISBN 13: 9780691073378

Practical Reflection

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9780691073378: Practical Reflection
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"What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?" asks J. David Velleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. The face that you see is doing two thingstrying to see itself and presenting itself to be seen. Velleman takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our conduct are aided by our reciprocal efforts to make it intelligible. The author then develops this explanation into a theory of practical reasoning, encompassing both reasons for acting and intentions to act. His theory covers such topics as free will, values, and morals.


Velleman's conception of autonomy leads us to reconsider, among many things, the traditional notion of deliberation as a reaction to a given predicament. According to Velleman, our predicaments are not given to us; we invent them, and their invention is the primary task of deliberation. The perennial practical question is not "How shall I solve my problem?" but "What shall my problem be?"


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About the Author:

J. David Velleman is professor of philosophy at New York University.

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J. David Velleman
Published by Princeton Univ Pr (1989)
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