Practical Reasoning as Occurring in the Midst of Doing Things

Quéré Louis
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2012.1140
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The paper starts from a pragmatist critique of the standard formalization of practical reasoning by practical syllogism. Then it identifies a weakness in such a critique: practical deliberation can take on other forms than controlled inquiry, in which the fixation of ends is correlated with the determination of means. Dewey’s alternative, habit/inquiry, is still too rough; it doesn’t take into account modes of exploration which don’t follow the pattern of inquiry, as it can be reconstructed through a theoretical representation of the scientific method. Many approaches in human and social sciences have tried to grasp those other forms of inquiry, as they are enacted in the situated organization of rational courses of action. The kind of ethnography of reasoning attempted by ethnomethodology is doubly relevant here: it shows how practical deliberation is part of the accomplishment of situated activities; it puts reasoning in the middle of doing things, and shows how it is specific to each activity type and to its methods. The result is a change in the focus of attention: practical deliberation is no longer seen as a calculus of the action to be done, but as an ongoing process consisting in progressive discovering, elaborating and modifying, through transactions with materials, events and practical circumstances, the appropriate ways of doing specific tasks.

Pour citer cet article :

Quéré Louis (2012/1). Practical Reasoning as Occurring in the Midst of Doing Things. In Gillot Pascale & Garreta Guillaume (Eds), The Mind and its Places, Intellectica, 57, (pp.175-198), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2012.1140.