Monday, September 07, 2009

On Practical Reason

The advocates of the New Natural Law Theory and the so-called "neo-Thomists" (like Ralph McInerny) are divided on the question of whether practical reason is "pre-moral" and therefore must be further specified in order to be moral reasoning.

Without reviewing the literature, I'd like to first write down some thoughts.

Practical reasoning deals with both doing and making. Is making therefore a morally neutral activity? Taken in the abstract, it might be. But does anyone proceed to make anything without considering whether it is good or not? Perhaps those who are unflective or those who have not attained the full use of reason. But in the concrete, all individual acts are either morally good or morally evil, even if one does not sufficiently reflect upon whether they should be doing it or not.

Would it be accurate to say that moral reasoning is a form of practical reasoning according to the proponents of the NNLT? That is to say, moral reasoning is practical reasoning plus certain foundational moral principles to guide that reasoning?

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