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Re-examining Deep Conventions: Practical Reason and Forward-Looking Agency

Rodriguez-Blanco, V (2016) Re-examining Deep Conventions: Practical Reason and Forward-Looking Agency In: Metaphilosophy of Law. Hart Publishing, Oxford, UK, pp. 177-188. ISBN 9781509906086

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There are many key distinctions that play an important role in mapping out plausible ways of thinking about law construed as a social practice. Among the varied dichotomies the one that has probably been most infl uential is the distinction between a description of an action and the normative characterisation of an action. The former aims to explain the action without resorting to the values or principles of the agent; the latter aims to show how actions are part of the normative landscape where values, principles and other normative standards play a key role. The focus might be on the values, principles and standards of the agent or on values, principles and standards that are objective. 1 In previous work 2 I have defended the view that the primary conception of intentional action is normative all the way through. There is no ‘ brute fact ’ or ‘ pure facts ’ about actions and therefore actions cannot primarily be grasped by descriptors of the world either mental, physical or of a similar sort. I have argued that in order to make intentional actions intelligible we need to resort to the values or principles or goodmaking characteristics that the agent aims to bring about in the world and we need to understand that the values, principles or good-making characteristics of the action provide a unity and intelligibility to the various bodily movements of the agent. This is a complex and occasionally diffi cult understanding of agency but it is one that, in my view, is sound. The core elements of this account of agency are that (a) there is a parallel between practical reason or deliberative reasoning and intentional action; (b) practical reasoning involves practical knowledge which is non-observational; (c) the error of an action stems not from what the world looks like but from the performance of the agent; and (d) intentional action is primarily from the fi rst person or deliberative point of view and therefore it is forward-looking. I will not provide a full defence of features (a), (b) or (c) in this chapter; rather I will focus only on (d) and will argue that this feature provides the key premise for the conclusion that a characterisation of actions in social practices, including law, cannot be carried out on the basis of descriptions. I will fi rst show that (d) is true and I will then advance the best account of actions in terms of descriptions provided by legal philosophers in recent years, which is the idea that actions and the resulting social practices can correctly be grasped as ‘ deep conventions ’ . Finally, I will show that conventions sensu stricto and deep conventions require (d) to be intelligible.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects : Law
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Rodriguez-Blanco, V
Editors :
Banas, P
Dyrda, A
Gizbert-Studnicki, T
Date : 6 October 2016
Copyright Disclaimer : © Bloomsbury Publishing 2016
Related URLs :
Additional Information : Forthcoming.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 12 Sep 2016 08:05
Last Modified : 22 Sep 2016 12:27

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