Review of Jonathan Dancy, Practial Shape
Jonathan Dancy is known for defending bold and often controversial positions. Practical Shape, in which Dancy defends what he calls a ‘Neo-Aristotelian’ theory of reasoning, is no exception in that regard.
Let me first sketch what I take to be the most important claims advanced in Practical Shape, and then raise some general worries with the resulting account. There are two chief reasons that Dancy associates the theory with Aristotle. First, Aristotle famously claimed that practical reasoning, via a syllogism, concludes in an action. Though, for Dancy, practical reasoning is not syllogistic, he claims that we can nevertheless reason ‘directly’ to an action. Thus, practical reasoning need not (necessarily) conclude in mental state which acts as intermediary for action.
Second, for Aristotle, practical and theoretical reasoning bear the same fundamental underlying structure, chiefly because both forms of reasoning can be cast in syllogistic form. Again, Dancy repudiates Aristotle’s...