Practical and Productive Thinking in Aristotle

Phronesis 63 (2):148-175 (2018)
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Abstract
I argue that on Aristotle’s account practical thinking is thinking whose origin (archē) is a desire that has as its object the very thing that one reasons about how to promote. This feature distinguishes practical from productive reasoning since in the latter the desire that initiates it is not (unless incidentally) a desire for the object that one productively reasons about. The feature has several interesting consequences: (a) there is only a contingent relationship between the desire that one practically reasons about how to satisfy and the action one decides on; (b) practical thinking and action cannot be separated from the agent, whereas productive thinking and production can be outsourced to someone else. The view has consequences also for the distinction between action and production. Finally, I illustrate the usefulness and correctness of my account of practical thinking by using it to shed new light on Aristotle’s claim that the virtuous agent must decide on her virtuous actions ‘for themselves’.
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First archival date: 2017-12-10
Latest version: 2 (2018-01-12)
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2017-12-10

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