Philosophy | Contemporary Ethical Theories
P540 | 25147 | Toh


We may think of practical reasoning as reasoning about how to act.
And according to the standard philosophy of action, actions are
distinct from mere behavior in that persons carrying out actions are
in (conscious) control of what happens.  We can say that persons
exercise their autonomy in carrying out full-blooded actions.  In
this class, we will look at issues having to do with practical
reasoning and autonomy.  Some central issues we are likely to
consider are: what constitutes autonomy? what can enhance or hamper
autonomy? how is autonomy related to our capacity for normative
judgments? how is autonomy related to morality?  Instead of doing a
broad literature survey, we will scrutinize closely the writings of
a handful of authors who have produced some of the most influential
recent work in this area.  The hope is that not only will we
consider the explicit arguments these authors deploy, but that we
will be in a position also to examine the more fundamental aspects
of their thinking.  The authors I am currently thinking of are:
Harry Frankfurt, Michael Bratman, David Velleman, Susan Wolf, and
Gary Watson.