Practical Inferences [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):128-129 (1973)
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This is one of four volumes from the same press collecting Hare’s major papers. Of the six papers in this volume, two have appeared in Mind, one in the Philosophical Review, two have appeared in special collections, and only one has not been previously published. There is brief additional material appended to some of the articles and, perhaps most important, a four page bibliography of Hare’s writings. From this bibliography one can discover which of Hare’s articles appear in each of the volumes of this group and also find their original location. One might thus save the cost of a volume or two for there is little doubt, considering the size and price of these books, upon what principle the publisher of this series has decided. The articles are largely a development and defense of Hare’s views of practical reason as set forth in The Language of Morals, with particular attention to the logical forms of imperatives and ought statements, and to the forms of inference valid for each. Beyond this basic theme, the collection is not particularly unified. Two fundamental impressions, however, emerge. The first is an awareness of the enormous influence of J. L. Austin on Hare’s thinking. This is evident not only in his discussion and rejection of Austin’s distinction between locutionary and illocutionary acts, but more importantly in his constant respect for ordinary usage and his resistance to ideal formalism. The second impression is that there is much to be done to develop a logic for imperative and prescriptive inferences. These papers present some basic principles for such a development but, since they are primarily defenses against criticisms of Hare’s book, there is an ad hoc character about them. What is now required is a more complete and systematic treatment of these topics. Ordinary language analysts might here make some inroads on the domain of formal logic to recall some of that logic to philosophy. The articles collected, therefore, are valuable, particularly as they encourage further development of the overlap of logic and ethics.—K. M.



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