Kontakt: Universität Duisburg-Essen, Institut für Philosophie, Stichwort: Kongress 2008, Universitätsstr. 12, 45117 Essen - Tel.: 0201/183-3486, E-Mail: infodgphil2008.de

Eine Auflistung der Sektionsredner finden Sie in alphabetischer Sortierung unter nachfolgendem Link

Verzeichnis der Sektionsredner

Download Programm

Unter folgendem Link können Sie sich das Gesamtprogramm als PDF (1 MB) herunterladen: Download PDF.


Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. C.F. Gethmann

Institut für Philosophie
Stichwort: Kongress 2008
Universität Duisburg-Essen
Universitätsstr. 12
45117 Essen

Häufig gestellte Fragen

Sollten Sie Fragen haben, schicken Sie eine E-Mail an info dgphil2008.de. Möglicherweise finden Sie auch bei den häufig gestellten Fragen eine Antwort.



Benedikt Kahmen (München) - Curriculum Vitae
The Quality of Practical Reasons


In discussions of practical rationality, although in other contexts as well, the concept of the quality of action – one action being better than another – occurs frequently. Especially when practical rationality is regarded as acting in accordance with one’s judgement which course of action is best, it is of crucial importance. Despite its recurring explicit or implicit use, relatively little has been said to clarify this concept. I argue that the quality of actions is to be assessed in terms of the quality of sets of reasons for these actions. It is thus the aim of my paper to provide a basic understanding of the concept of the quality of reasons by proposing a holistic conception of it and outlining the general consequences of such a conception for assessing practical rationality.

The concept of the quality of reasons is taken in three dimensions: Firstly, in accordance with Santas’s distinction between motivational and evaluative language, one set of an agent’s reasons can said to be motivationally better than another if one, but not the other, effectively motivates the agent to act. Secondly, even if motivated more strongly by one set of reasons, an agent may assign the other set of reasons a higher place in an evaluative ranking, in which case the latter set of reasons is evaluatively better than the other. Thirdly, an agent’s attitudes towards the evaluative quality of reasons might be judged to be correct or not. Such judgements purport to assess the critical quality of reasons.

I argue that motivational quality is related to an agent’s attempts to act. Because of this, motivationally best sets of reasons have to figure in the correct explanation of these attempts. The limits of possibly correct explanations are fixed by the desires and beliefs the agent has and by the explanatory story of their acquisition. I will maintain that the most inclusive of the available stories determines which of the possible explanations is correct. Thus, one set of reasons is motivationally better than another if it figures in an explanation that incorporates more elements of an agent’s personal history. Because of this, judgements about the motivational quality of reasons will take the form of inferences to best explanations.

The evaluatively best set of reasons need not explain an agent’s attempt to act, for the quality of reasons as assessed by evaluative attitudes might disagree with their motivational quality. I will argue that evaluative attitudes are conceptually open to include conditions of assessment. Furthermore, I will claim that in the evaluation of reasons, elements of personal histories can only be included in these conditions. Therefore, the quality of reasons as assessed by attitudes that include all conditions an agent deems relevant cannot be based on anything specific to any agent. Therefore, the evaluative quality of reasons is not concerned with explanation, but with justification according to the normative systems an agent accepts. The extent to which a justification accords with the totality of these systems determines its quality. Since, as I will maintain, the evaluative quality of reasons depends on the quality of the justification they form a part of, the set of reasons that is in line with most elements of the normative systems is evaluatively best. Consequently, judgements about evaluative quality are inferences to most inclusive justifications.

The critical quality of reasons is supposed to stand in judgement over the correctness of an agent’s evaluative attitudes. I will argue that this is possible only if the perspective of assessment of the quality of reasons is not restricted to any specific agent. I will therefore claim that it is a criterion for the eligibility of evaluative attitudes to provide critical assessment of reasons that it is at least possible to suppose from every agent’s point of view that these attitudes are correct.

I will conclude from this discussion that the quality of reasons in its three dimensions is to be analyzed as the extent to which sets of reasons fit in their corresponding frame of reference. Regarding an agent’s practical rationality as the accordance of motivational and evaluative quality of his reasons, we then can no longer assess his rationality by considering isolated cases, but have to take the more comprehensive view that rationality consists in the convergence of the corresponding frames of reference.

  • nach oben
  • zum Kalender

Curriculum Vitae von Benedikt Kahmen

  • Philosophie, Logik und Wissenschaftschaftstheorie (LMU München, Cambridge University)
Derzeitige Universität oder Institution:
  • LMU München
  • Handlungstheorie
  • Deutscher Idealismus
  • nach oben
  • zum Kalender