William Ratoff


Cognitivism about practical reason is the doctrine that certain aspects of practical reason are really instances of theoretical reason. For example, that intentions are beliefs or that certain norms of practical rationality just are, or reduce to, certain norms of theoretical rationality. Radical cognitivism about practical reason, in contrast, is the more heady view that practical reason just is a species of theoretical reason. It entails that what it is to be a motivational state (of any kind) is to be a belief (of some particular kind), that all practical reasoning is just a variety of theoretical reasoning, and that all practical norms are really a kind of epistemic norm. In this paper, I introduce and motivate this view, before investigating the cognitivist theory of intention and means-end practical reasoning to which such a radical cognitivist is committed. Unlike other cognitivists about practical reason, the radical cognitivist reduces all practical reasoning to theoretical reasoning and all practical norms to epistemic norms. She therefore faces unique challenges in accounting for the basic desiderata on any adequate theory of intention and means-end practical reasoning: whereas other cognitivists can appeal to sui generis practical states (desires) and norms, the radical cognitivist is restricted to the sparse resources – cognitive states and the epistemic norms that govern them – to which she has restricted herself. Here I develop and critically examine the options the radical cognitivist has for satisfying these desiderata. My conclusions are optimistic: there is a defensible formulation of the radical cognitivist’s theory of intention and means-end practical reasoning.