This introductory chapter starts by reflecting discursively on the foundations of practical reason, and its significance for our knowledge of human nature. Practical reasoning, in its primary form — deliberating — is already an action, but it is also the actuation of a natural capacity. When it issues in free choice, it is also self-shaping. But above all, it is an engagement with reasons for action, and these are articulated in principles directing us to intelligible goods. These are good for me and anyone like me: all human persons. Hume's denial that action can ever be motivated ultimately by reasons, Kant's oversight of all basic reasons and first principles save one, and neo-scholastic premature appeals to human nature or to subrational inclinations can all be surmounted. The Introduction goes beyond any of the chapters in its discussion of efforts by Sen and Nussbaum to identify human capabilities and functions, and its critique of Chappell's resistance to counting marriage a basic human good.
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