Practical Knowledge as Knowledge of a Normative Judgment

Manuscrito (4):319-347 (2018)
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According to one interpretation of Aristotle’s famous thesis, to say that action is the conclusion of practical reasoning is to say that action is itself a judgment about what to do. A central motivation for the thesis is that it suggests a path for understanding the non-observational character of practical knowledge. If actions are judgments, then whatever explains an agent’s knowledge of the relevant judgment can explain her knowledge of the action. I call the approach to action that accepts Aristotle’s thesis so understood Normativism. There are many reasons to doubt Normativism. My aim in this paper is to defend Normativism from a pair of arguments that purport to show that a normative judgment could not constitute an event in material reality and also the knowledge of such a happening. Both highlight a putative mismatch between the natures of, on the one hand, an agent’s knowledge of her normative judgment and, on the other, her knowledge of her own action. According to these objections, knowledge of action includes (a) perceptual knowledge and (b) knowledge of what one has already done. But knowledge of a normative judgment includes neither. Hence knowledge of action cannot simply be knowledge of a normative judgment.
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Archival date: 2018-08-29
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