Deliberation and Reason
by Richard Baron
This book is about the thinking in which we engage when we reflectively decide what to do, and when we reflectively reach conclusions as to the correct answers to questions. Some philosophers separate our choices of action from our adoptions of belief, on the ground that we have choices as to what to do, but no choice as to what to believe. I treat the two together when considering processes of deliberation, but separately when considering the rationality of conclusions.
The main objective is to identify a way of looking at ourselves and at our deliberations that is adequate to our lives. It must accommodate both our conception of ourselves as free, rational and self-directed subjects, and our feeling that we deliberate freely. It must also identify a place for us that will feel like home, doing justice to our status as subjects, within the world as we relate to it when we practise the natural sciences. The central claims are not about how we are, but about how we should look at ourselves.
A key task is to show that this limited ambition, which is forced on us by the need to avoid metaphysical implausibility, nonetheless allows us to develop a position that has sufficient strength to do its work. The aim is to show something that is all too easily taken for granted. This is that we can limit ourselves to a strictly naturalistic ontology, while still having access to a generous idiom that allows us to speak of ourselves as free in the exercise of our rationality.
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