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Critically discuss the importance of materiality for theories of practical reasoning.

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Introduction

Critically discuss the importance of materiality for theories of practical reasoning. 1. On the face of it an agents reasons for acting would seem to depend on (1) factors about the agent themselves; and (2) factors concerning their environment and circumstances. This has often led to a claim of pluralism: that there are incompatible views on what courses of action there are good reasons to engage in. The importance of materiality then, would seem to rest on its distinctive feature of universality: that is, it is unique in virtue of placing a universal constraint on all agents irrespective of who they are, precisely because there are features which all human beings share by just by virtue of being practical beings. The claim of universality thus carries significance independent of what human beings think of it. It presents a reason for engaging in certain courses of action irrespective of an individual's distinct interest and in this regard materiality is of brute significance. The claim would be that materiality places a constraint on the second of these factors which necessarily impinges upon the first, and thus provides, a reason for all agents to engage in certain courses of actions: In this case, fulfilling their material needs. 2. This essay challenges the significance of this universality. It argues that materiality is universal only in a very basic sense, and that beyond this the truth of our materiality and the constraints it places on our practical reasoning is very much localized, that is, depending on an agents circumstances and environment. I suggest also that there is a paradoxical feature involved in its recurrence in that whilst placing material constraints on all persons continually, for many the significance will become less and less as a mental process for engaging in securing material needs depending again on one's social context or environment. I begin this essay by trying to root out the core features of materiality that I have suggested makes it distinct and more fundamental then the plurality of values people find reason to hold. ...read more.

Middle

in terms of making me appear a certain way, and perhaps making me fit in with a particular style accustomed to a community, its primary function is nevertheless to provide the basic needs of warmth, comfort, protection and so on. In a similar fashion then, whilst bread may provide extra-functions in terms of being the staff of life and so on, its function proper is to provide for our nutritional needs. Whilst primacy may be given, in a religious culture, to bread as a representation of the staff of life, it must be recognised that attaching such primacy and engaging in such religious activities can only happen secondarily to providing for our basic nutritional needs. Nevertheless the cultural differences which may place different meanings on such primary goods raises another interesting point: Simply, that the significance of our materiality in placing a universal constraint on practical reasoning is heavily dependent on one's context or environment; and to this degree, we fall back on the idea that what we have reason to do depends on the agent and their circumstances. Moreover, it is a paradoxical feature of recurrence that whilst it makes materiality a central factor in our lives as human beings, it also has the feature that in some cultural climates the recurrence of materiality makes it less and less intrusive in our practical reasoning: that is, in one sense, we take it for granted; we become unaware of it. It is important to notice then, that in many peoples society we do not think of bread in terms of its function proper or clothes in terms of their function proper; but instead terms of their extra-functions: My desire to look a certain way, my desire to take part in a religious activity. This is the case when securing our basic material needs does not figure highly in our practical reasoning: we simply take their fulfilment as granted. ...read more.

Conclusion

. . . . . "' Alternatively 'it is false that "......."' The larger sentence doesn't have to be true or false, it just has to make grammatical sense. E.g. 'It is true that "poodles is a rock god"' makes sense, and so has the surface grammer of a descriptivce statement although it is false. Now, expressive judgements are different: it does not make sense to say that 'It is truye that "AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGG!"'. So expressions are not truth apt. So? Well if ethical judgements are expressions of attidude then they can't be true or false and so we can't debate with them, say one value is better then the other etc. Thats why in my essay, Blackburn wants to mimic realism as much as possible; so we can rank ethical judgements; so we can say waht Hitler did, for example, was evil etc. without people going well, you're just expressing you're attitude, and i can express mine, and I think it was Ok. Again, we need to be able to say about that person 'we'll you're wrong'. I can't remeber what you question was, but what i'm going to talk about is whether ethixal properties (good, bad, right wrong etc) exist. Consider: what is it that makes x good or right? (where x is an an action, a situation, a character trait, whatever) Now: the whole probably with all of this (i.e. ethical statemnts aren't truth apt is that we dopn't speak in this way in the real world, and this goes back to all the stuff about deconstructing knowledge, because we don't deconstruct into expressions, but construe things as if they were in fact truth apt). This is hard to explain, and the essays are tricky, so you might just want to ignore all of this. It will take some thinking to really make an argument from it regarding you're essay. And there's loads of other really ionteresting stuff which I won't tell you about because its complicated and probably not relevent. ...read more.

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