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Volume 52 • Number 2

April 2015



A Realistic Practical Conclusion

by Patricio A Fernandez

At least for those who uphold the rationality of morality, ethics and practical reason are not two distinct topics: an ethically sound agent is one whose practical reason functions as it should. Take, for instance, the greatest historical figures. Aristotle claimed that no virtue of character can exist without practical wisdom—the excellence of practical, deliberative reason. And Kant thought that the categorical imperative, the ultimate moral principle that governs a good will, was at the same time the fundamental principlof practical reasoning because the will simply is practical reason.

Even before any philosophical theory of the connection between acting well and the exercise of a rational power is in view, our moral practices strongly suggest that there is one. For we take it for granted that, in an important range of cases, when an agent fails to act as she should, something has gone awry with the agent and not just with her acts, and, furthermore, that the agent herself may be held responsible for this. In calling an agent who acts unethically "irrational," we are saying these two things.

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ISSN: 2152-1123