Politics of Practical Reasoning: Integrating Action, Discourse, and Argument

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9780739181058: Politics of Practical Reasoning: Integrating Action, Discourse, and Argument
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The capacity for reasonable argument about practical and political matters is important to our daily lives. Yet what does arguing really involve? Often, our very concept of what it is to argue seems systematically distorted. Practical, political arguing is too often stylized as hyper-cognitive, ending by treating people as objects rather than other selves — in ways that are fundamentally unreasonable.
This book examines what follows from seeing people as deliberating and acting in ways that intertwine a variety of emotional and evaluative processes and effects of virtue or character. From this point of view, practical arguing involves not just cognition, emotion, and virtue, but also practices, including imaginative practices. Politics of Practical Reasoning: Integrating Action, Discourse and Argument uses these ideas to interrogate ways in which reasoning is bound up with the interrelated lives that human beings lead in their everyday, public and political worlds.
We build here on efforts to re-concretize practical reasoning in modern traditions linked to phenomenology and Wittgensteinian thought, also referring back to Aristotle and the Stoics in classical times. Medieval theologians and philosophers such as Aquinas confront the same issue, as do Enlightenment thinkers such as Smith and Kant. Using the history of philosophical thought as one of our major sources, the contributors sympathize with the link underscored between interpretation, tradition and reasoning by Gadamer, the stress placed on communicative and emancipatory action by Habermas, and MacIntyre’s notion of praxis as highlighting deliberation within communities. All these approaches respond to practical reasoning as practical.
Building on these points of view, the volume both explores what practical reasoning itself means, and applies it to particular questions: what it means to respond to arguments about meaningful work or disability, or how to debate institutional ethics or art. None of these debates is susceptible to exclusively cognitive or technical solutions; this does not mean abandoning them to unreason.
Practical and political reasoning is examined here from an appropriately broad spectrum of approaches, founded in a concern for what human reasoning can justifiably be expected to involve, and what justifying it can reasonably be expected to achieve.

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About the Author:

Ricca Edmondson is a lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Karlheinz Hülser is professor of ancient philosophy at the Universities of Jena and Konstanz.

Review:

This impressive collection of essays exhibits the pragmatics of practical reasoning, as it is integrated into the rhetoric of political deliberation and argumentation. The work is historically informed: there are essays on Aristotle, the Stoics and Adam Smith, as well as on Descartes, Pascal and Rawls. The ramifications of this project — its attempts to contextualize the political implications of practical reasoning — range widely from biomedical ethics to Pollock's aesthetics. This book is a solid contribution to the growing literature on the moral and political dimensions of practical reason. (Amelie Rorty, Boston University and Harvard Medical School)

This book defends a unified conception of practical reason, while illuminating in different essays a range of topics such as meaningful work, artistic creation, embodied subjectivity, disability, and deliberation in public policy and in biomedical practice. The multi-layered and versatile character of practical reasoning is elucidated by substantive historical scholarship (on Aristotle and the Stoics, Aquinas, Kant and Adam Smith) and by expert engagement with contemporary phenomenological and analytical perspectives across ethics, rhetoric, aesthetics, political philosophy and theory of argumentation. Politics of Practical Reasoning splendidly furthers the recent renaissance in the philosophy of practice and will be enthusiastically recommended reading for all serious students of the field. (Joseph Dunne, Cregan Professor of Philosophy and Education, Dublin City University, author of Back to the Rough Ground: Practical Judgment and the Lure of Technique)

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