Music Appreciation Teacher Journal

  • First, write about your understanding of the article
  • Second, I’d like to see you describe and explain the idea you’ve chosen to engage with in the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the journal. Pretend as though your audience for the journal is a friend or family member who is not in the class and is unfamiliar with the material. Explain it so that someone in that position could follow and understand – like you’re bringing them “up to speed” in preparation for your reflections.
  • Third, the last 1/2 to 2/3 of the journal should be spent explaining your evaluation or perspective on the chosen topic.
  • 6
    Proleptic Reasons
    Agnes Callard
    The teacher of a music appreciation class is frustrated with those students
    who are taking her class, as she puts it, “for the wrong reasons.” In her view,
    the class offers students access to the intrinsic value of music. Students who
    are taking it for “the right reason” will be taking it for this reason. But only
    those who already appreciate music appreciate musical appreciation. Or, at
    any rate, only they appreciate it correctly, for the reason for which (she
    believes) one should appreciate it—namely, intrinsic musical value. The
    problem is that if the intrinsic value of music is a reason you respond to, you
    don’t need to take her class. You already appreciate music.
    She wants students in the class who care about music. But she’s supposed
    to be teaching them to care about music. Is she being unreasonable? The
    problem does not go away once we admit of degrees or kinds of caring—it
    does not help to characterize her job as that of getting people who care a
    little (or who care in this way) to care more (or in that way). So long as
    someone enters the class satisfied with his level or type of music appreciation, whatever that may be, the teacher will impugn his motives, whatever
    they may be. The teacher is looking for students who want to care about
    music more than, or in a different way than, they currently do. But, again,
    she doesn’t want them to want this for some extra-musical reason. So it
    seems that what she wants is for them to respond to musical value exactly to
    the extent that they’re not yet able to.
    This is a paradoxical way of putting an ordinary demand for the kind of
    reason that is my topic. It is possible to have an inkling of a value that you do
    not fully grasp, to feel the defect in your valuation, and to work towards
    improvement. The reason for doing that work is provided by the value in
    question, but the defect in your grasp of that value also shapes the character
    of the activity it motivates. For consider what kind of thinking motivates a
    good student to force herself to listen to a symphony when she feels herself
    dozing off: she reminds herself that her grade, and the teacher’s opinion of
    her, depends on the essay she will write about this piece; or she promises
    Agnes Callard
    herself a chocolate treat when she reaches the end; or she’s in a glass-walled
    listening room of the library, conscious of other students’ eyes on her; or
    perhaps she conjures up a romanticized image of her future, musical self,
    such as that of entering the warm light of a concert hall on a snowy evening.
    Someone who already valued music wouldn’t need to motivate herself in
    any of these ways. She wouldn’t have to try so hard.
    The paradox arises from a dilemma concerning two kinds of reasons that
    a potential student of such a class could have for taking it. There is, first, the
    intra-musical reason, the having of which seems to mark the fact that the
    class has come to a successful close. There is, second, any extra-musical
    reason, the recourse to which seems to condemn someone to subordinating
    the value of music to what the teacher would call “an ulterior motive.” In the
    first case, the reason is not the reason of a student; in the second case, it’s the
    reason of (what the teacher would call) a bad student. I will argue that this
    dilemma is specious, because there is an agent—the good student—who
    manages to combine extra- and intra-musical reasoning. Like the musiclover she will become, she is genuinely oriented towards the intrinsic value
    of music. For instance, if offered some way of attaining good grades,
    chocolate treats, etc. without coming to appreciate music, she would reject
    it. And yet grades and chocolates are integral to the rational explanation of
    her action of listening to music: she would be asleep without them. “Bad”
    reasons are how she moves herself forwards, all the while seeing them as bad,
    which is to say, as placeholders for the “real” reason.
    One characteristic of someone motivated by these complex reasons, by
    contrast with the simpler reasons of the bad student, on the one hand, and
    the established music lover, on the other hand, is some form of embarrassment or dissatisfaction with oneself. She is pained to admit, to herself or
    others, that she can only “get herself ” to listen to music through those
    various stratagems. She sees her own motivational condition as in some way
    imperfectly responsive to the reasons that are out there. Nonetheless, her
    self-acknowledged rational imperfection does not amount to akrasia, wrongdoing, error or, more generally, any form of irrationality. Something can be
    imperfect in virtue of being undeveloped or immature, as distinct from
    wrong or bad or erroneous. (There is something wrong with a lion that
    cannot run fast, but there is nothing wrong with a baby lion that cannot run
    fast.) When the good student of music actively tries to listen, she exhibits
    not irrationality but a distinctive form of rationality.
    Her rationality is not, however, of the familiar, clear-eyed kind.
    Anscombe’s Intention placed the ability to answer the “why?” question at
    the heart of philosophical discussions of agency. The agent who can give an
    account of what is to be gotten out of what she is doing grasps the value of
    what she will (if successful) achieve through her action. Her answer to the
    Proleptic Reasons
    “why?” question might not satisfy every interlocutor, but it is at least
    satisfying to the agent herself: she takes herself to know why she is doing
    whatever it is she takes herself to be doing. Of course, not every agent will be
    able to satisfy herself in this way: some agents are not paying attention to
    what they are doing, or are being impulsive,1 or experience a moment of
    forgetfulness, or have simply failed to think things through sufficiently. In
    some of these cases, the agent’s behavior is arational, since her ignorance is
    profound enough to disqualify her from acting intentionally; in other cases,
    her action is intentional, but irrational. The good student of music likewise
    fails to be able to articulate, to her own satisfaction, what she expects to get
    out of her music class. In her case, however, this marks neither the absence
    of intentionality nor the absence of rationality.
    If an agent finds her own answer to the “why?” question satisfying, she
    must ascribe to herself a certain knowledge of value. Such an agent takes
    herself to know both that some form of value is on offer, and that it is one
    she herself does or will enjoy, appreciate, or find meaningful. And such a
    person is often correct—agents often do have such knowledge. How did
    they acquire it? Since knowledge of value is itself valuable, it stands to reason
    that one way we acquire such knowledge is the way we acquire many other
    valuable things: by acting in order to bring about that acquisition. The
    problem is that unless one is equipped with an ulterior motive,2 the value of
    knowledge of some value is not a different value from that value itself.
    Therefore, those seeking to acquire the knowledge cannot take themselves to
    know why they are doing so. And yet—I will argue—it is a fact of life that
    we act not only from, but also, at other times, for the sake of acquiring,
    knowledge of value.
    If those actions are to be rational, then rationality cannot require accurate
    foreknowledge of the good your rational action will bring you. Thus I will
    defend the view that you can act rationally even if your antecedent conception of the good for the sake of which you act is not quite on target—and
    you know that. In these cases, you do not demand that the end result of your
    agency match a preconceived schema, for you hope, eventually, to get more
    out of what you are doing than you can yet conceive of. I’ll call this kind of
    rationality, “proleptic.” The word “proleptic” refers, usually in a grammatical context, to something taken in advance of its rightful place. I appropriate it for moral psychology on the model of Margaret Little’s phrase
    1 Some, but not all, impulsive agents will take themselves to fail in respect to the “why”
    question. “Just because I feel like it” might strike one agent as a perfectly good answer, and
    another as no answer at all.
    2 As in Frankfurt’s example of the doctor who treats drug addicts: he wants to
    understand the appeal of drug addiction without actually wanting to become addicted.
    Agnes Callard
    “proleptic engagement” (2008: 342), by which she refers to an interaction
    with a child in which we treat her as though she were the adult we want her
    to become.3 Proleptic reasons are provisional in a way that reflects the
    provisionality of the agent’s own knowledge and development: her inchoate,
    anticipatory, and indirect grasp of some good she is trying to know better.
    Proleptic reasons allow you to be rational even when you know that your
    reasons aren’t exactly the right ones.
    A reason for action is a consideration in favor of acting in some way; if the
    agent in fact acts in the way in question, she will be able to offer that reason
    as an explanation of why she so acted. Sometimes we do something for more
    than one reason: I might go to the store both in order to get milk and for the
    exercise. Proleptic reasons are double in a more fundamental way. The good
    music appreciation student is listening to the symphony assigned for her
    class because music is intrinsically valuable, and because she wants a good
    grade. If she merely cited the first as her reason, she would be pretending to a
    greater love of music than she currently has; if she merely cited the second,
    she would be incorrectly assimilating herself to the bad student. But her
    motivational condition is also not one in which she has merely added the
    first reason to the second, because that situation would describe a music
    lover who is (strangely) taking a music appreciation class. The fact that
    music is intrinsically valuable and the fact that she wants a good grade
    somehow combine into one reason that motivates her to listen. The reason
    on which she acts has two faces: a proximate face that reflects the kinds of
    things that appeal to the person she is now and a distal face that reflects the
    character and motivation of the person she is trying to be. Her reason is
    double because she herself is in transition.
    I will show, by generalizing the paradox described in my opening, that it
    is not only the rarefied context of music education that calls for a proleptic
    analysis. I argue that we must acknowledge the reality of proleptic reasons,
    else we be forced to classify as irrational a large swath of human agency—
    agency that is purposive, self-conscious, intelligent, and truth-sensitive, and
    which constitutes a kind of building block of or prelude to everything else
    that we do. I end with a discussion of the currently dominant moral
    psychological thesis that what practical reasons we have depends on what
    desires we have (internalism). I consider a few variants of internalism, and
    3 Likewise Bernard Williams (1995) speaks of a “proleptic mechanism” by which he
    takes at least some instances of blame to function. Williams asserts that a blamer’s
    pronouncement that the blamee “ought to have φ-ed” can serve not as a description of
    the blamee’s current set of reasons, but rather as a way of both anticipating and bringing
    about the future state of affairs in which the blamee will be in a position to be motivated
    by the reasons now being ascribed to him.
    Proleptic Reasons
    argue that none of them can, as they stand, make room for the existence of
    proleptic reasons.
    6 .1 L A R G E – S C A L E T R A N S F O R M A T I V E P U R S U I T S
    I adopt the phrase “large-scale transformative pursuits” to describe such
    significant life changes as: attending college, moving to a foreign country,
    adopting a child, becoming a painter or a philosopher or a police officer,
    achieving distinction in athletics or chess or music, becoming a sports
    fan, an opera lover or a gourmet, befriending or marrying or mentoring
    someone, etc. The two features uniting this class of pursuits are that one
    cannot know beforehand all that one is to get out of them, and that they
    require years of sustained effort, both in the form of preparation and in the
    form of the work attending the completed state. They are both transformative
    and large in scale.
    Some ends are transformative but not large in scale: riding a roller coaster
    for the first time or trying a new flavor of ice cream. In these cases, I don’t
    know quite what I’m getting myself into. I ask the world to, as we say,
    “surprise me.” When we seek to be surprised in this way, we open ourselves
    to having our tastes revised on the basis of new experiences. We will only be
    able understand the value of these experiences after the fact and not while we
    pursue them. It is because the set of actions we do “for the thrill of it” or “to
    see what that is like” do not require years of intensive preparatory or
    consequential effort that our reason for engaging them can simply be to
    try something new. The value of novelty or surprise suffices to motivate and
    rationalize only small-scale transformative pursuits. Becoming a police
    officer, or adopting a child, is also “something new,” but we would not
    view that as a sufficient reason to adopt such an end. It would often be
    irresponsible to take up even a hobby, if one’s only grounds for doing so
    were the whimsical attraction to new experience. When it comes to the kind
    of reasons that might rationalize a transformative pursuit, scale matters.
    Not many pursuits are large in scale without being transformative, but
    some may be. Under some circumstances, making a lot of money might
    qualify, especially if the motive were, for example, to secure the financial
    future of one’s descendants. Craft-hobby activities such as assembling a
    huge puzzle or adding pieces to one’s hand-built model railroad will also
    often qualify. I suspect that some of the appeal of the repetitiveness of such
    activities—restoring another classic car—is that they are virtually guaranteed
    to be non-transformative. The same holds for the effort people put into
    physical exercise done for the sake of maintaining fitness levels. The promise
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    of a certain kind of ethical stasis can turn even intellectually or physically
    strenuous engagement into a source of relaxation.
    Transformative ends are recognized as such not only by those who have
    succeeded in attaining them, but also by those who are on their way: one can
    see in advance that one cannot see in advance all of what is good about
    parenthood, or friendship, or scuba-diving, or emigrating to another
    country. Transformative pursuits aim at values, the appreciation of which
    is connected to the performance of the activity (or involvement in the
    relationship) in question. Indeed, this is because the pursuits themselves
    form a kind of value-education, gradually changing the agent into the kind
    of person who can appreciate the value of the activity or relationship or state
    of affairs that constitutes the end of the pursuit. In the course of becoming a
    teacher or a friend or a reader of ancient Greek, one learns to appreciate the
    values that are distinctive of teaching or friendship or reading ancient Greek.
    But one does not fully appreciate them until one is at, or close to, the end
    of the process of transformation. For it is the end-state (teaching, parenting,
    translating) that offers up the actual engagement with the value on which
    any full appreciation of it must be conditioned. The joys of teaching are best
    known to teachers. Everyone goes to college “to become educated,” but
    until I am educated I do not really know what an education is, or why it is
    important. I may say I am studying chemistry in order to understand the
    “structure of matter,” but only a chemist understands what it means for
    matter to have structure (or, indeed, what matter really is). For the rest of us,
    that phrase is likely to be backed by little more than an image of a tinker-toy
    “structure” to which a mental label such as “molecule” is affixed.
    The problem posed by large-scale transformative pursuits is this: they
    require us to act on reasons that reflect a grasp of the value we are working so
    hard and so long to come into contact with, but we can know that value only
    once we have come into contact with it. And yet the cost of granting that
    such ends are pursued for no reason, or bad reasons, would be to restrict the
    scope of practical rationality very greatly. For most, if not all, of the
    experiences, forms of knowledge, ethical and intellectual traits, activities,
    achievements, and relationships that we value are such that the pursuit of
    them is both large in scale and transformative. It is true that even if we were
    forced to characterize the choices by which we move ourselves towards all of
    those ends as irrational, we could still rationalize engagement with the ends
    once achieved. But if this is all there is to practical rationality, we should be
    disappointed. For every rational choice to continue φ-ing will be adventitiously predicated on a series of irrational choices to come to φ. We should
    expect more from our reasons than maintenance of a mysteriously attained
    status quo. I propose, therefore, to introduce a species of reasons to meet this
    Proleptic Reasons
    My music appreciation example built in a demand, on the part of the teacher,
    that we not separate the rationalization of the pursuit from that of the end. This
    kind of demand is generally appropriate for large-scale transformative pursuits.
    We do not want to understand the agent engaged in a large-scale transformative
    pursuit along the lines of someone who walks to the park for the exercise, but
    stays when she sees they’re showing an outdoor movie. For in that case the agent
    was not, when walking, pursuing the end of seeing a movie. It is possible
    to rationalize both the walk and the movie-watching without rationalizing
    anything we could call the pursuit of the movie. By contrast, large-scale transformational pursuits are characteristically aspirational: when the agent gets
    where she’s going, she realizes that she has what she was after all along.
    S E L F -M A N A G E M E N T
    We ought to demand a rational account of how someone can work her way
    to the valuation characteristic of the various end-states to which we aspire.
    Satisfying this demand, I claim, means postulating a set of reasons—I’ve
    called them “proleptic reasons”—tailor-made to rationalize exactly these
    sorts of pursuit. By way of argument for this claim, let us survey alternate
    contenders, reviewing the kinds of factors we typically cite in explaining
    such behavior: a vague grasp of the value in question, a precise grasp of a
    value in close proximity to the value in question, reliance on the ethical
    testimony of a mentor or advisor figure, imaginative engagement in a
    pretense of being as one aspires to be, casting success at some activity as a
    locus of social competition, recourse to self-management techniques of (dis)
    incentivization. I’ll argue, case by case, that vague reasons, approximating
    reasons, testimonial reasons, reasons of pretense, competitive reasons, and
    reasons of self-management rationalize in the right way only insofar as we
    help ourselves to a dedicated subset of each genus of reasons. It turns out
    that in order to rationalize aspirational agency, we must invoke not vague
    reasons but proleptically vague reasons, not testimonial reasons but proleptically testimonial reasons, etc. In the attempt to avoid proleptic rationality, we
    find ourselves ushering it in piecemeal, through the backdoor.
    6.2.1 Vague Reasons
    Someone who has a “vague reason” for φ-ing φ-es with only a vague idea of
    the value of φ-ing. It is certainly true that I have a vague idea of the value of
    Agnes Callard
    all sorts of pursuits in which I am not currently engaged. For instance,
    I think there are many valuable careers I did not choose, many valuable
    hobbies I don’t pursue, many valuable books I’m not reading. One problem
    with such ideas is that they are often not very motivating. I don’t plan to
    read most of those books. Consider a bad student of music appreciation—
    one intent on merely going through the motions necessary for fulfilling a
    distribution requirement. He might happily grant that music appreciation is
    a “good and valuable end.” He has a vague idea that music appreciation is
    good. But that’s not enough to get him to do the homework, show up to
    class on time, study for the exam, etc. A vague idea does not entail
    willingness to put in effort. So let us suppose that the vague idea is not so
    vague—in fact, let us posit that it suffices for motivation. There are many
    non-aspirational situations in which I have only a vague idea of the value
    I am motivated to get. I buy tickets to an opera I know I love, not knowing
    exactly what I will love about this production. Such an activity is not
    aspirational, because I’m satisfied with my vague idea. I don’t now feel the
    need to work to make up the difference between the vague idea I have now
    and the sharp one I will have later; I don’t experience that difference as a
    defect in my current state. I need only wait for the world and my interests to
    line up in such a way as to make it possible for me to do the enjoying or
    appreciating that I’m already fully capable of.
    The aspirant’s idea of the goodness of her end is characterized by a
    distinctive kind of vagueness—one she experiences as defective and in
    need of remedy. She is not satisfied with her own conception of the end,
    and does not feel that arriving at the correct conception is simply a matter of
    time. She understands her aspirational activity as work she is doing towards
    grasping this end. So, while vague conceptions of value do help explain how
    aspiration is possible, it is equally true that the phenomenon of aspiration
    helps us understand a distinctive form of vagueness—a kind of eversharpening vagueness. Large-scale transformation pursuits are done for
    those vague reasons that are proleptically vague.
    6.2.2 Self-Management Reasons
    My music student plans to reward herself with chocolate for getting through
    the symphony. I might make plans with a buddy to go running in the
    morning, so that she can “hold me accountable” for my plan. Reasons of
    self-management show up whenever I am trying to get myself to do
    something that I think I should do but may feel insufficiently motivated
    to do. Some forms of self-management can be very mild, such as simply
    resolving to (not) do something. In all these cases, I find some way to add
    Proleptic Reasons
    motivational backing to a given course of action. Notice, however, that such
    self-manipulation comes in two forms.
    Suppose that Sue worries that she’ll be tempted to buy expensive holiday
    presents4 for her friends, despite her lack of funds. So she adopts one or
    more of such self-managing tactics as: choosing a thrifty friend as a shopping
    partner, leaving her credit card at home, resolving not to enter a certain
    expensive store. In the case I’m imagining, Sue does not see her temperamental generosity as problematic. She doesn’t have a systemic problem, she
    just happens to be very short of funds at the moment. Reasons of selfmanagement are, in this kind of case, directed only at behavior on a given
    occasion, or even a series of occasions.
    A different kind of holiday shopper might, by contrast, be engaged in a
    long-term struggle to curb her chronic overspending by learning to think
    less commercially about how to make herself and those around her happy.
    In that kind of case, self-management is directed primarily at changing how
    the agent thinks, values, and feels. The music student described above
    would presumably see it as quite problematic if, years hence, she were still
    motivating herself to listen with chocolate. Or consider the case of moving
    to a new country. I may, at first, have to “force” myself into social situations.
    My hope is thereby to come to inhabit the new culture, language, etc. in
    such a way as to become disposed to engage eagerly in such socializing.
    I aspire to make this new place my home. This second kind of selfmanagement often goes along with a characteristically aspirational form of
    practice. In some cases, doing something over and over again changes the
    way I do it. And so by doing it, I hope to change my attitude towards it.
    Sometimes I manage myself precisely with the aim of managing myself less
    and less. And that is just to say: reasons of self-management, too, come in a
    proleptic variety.
    6.2.3 Testimonial Reasons
    We often invoke testimony to explain how someone’s rationally held beliefs
    can outstrip the cognitive resources that can strictly be called his own. There
    is some controversy over whether such testimony is possible in a moral
    context,5 but it certainly seems possible to heed the practical advice of your
    elders and betters—even against your own instincts and inclinations. It is
    also true that advisors or mentors often, even typically, figure in large-scale
    transformative pursuits. But the mentor’s role in the life of the aspirant is
    4 I would like to thank Kate Manne for the example, and for helping me to see its
    5 See Wiland (2014) and McGrath (2011).
    Agnes Callard
    not an unproblematic one. Unlike in other testimonial contexts, the aspirant’s goal is nothing other than coming to see the value for herself. The fact
    that your role-model knows so much more than you that you are inclined to
    defer to her advice means that contact with her is a constant reminder of
    what you don’t have. You don’t aspire to do what she does; you aspire to do
    what she does in just the way she does it—namely, independently.
    What would the music appreciation teacher think of a student who takes
    her class on the advice of his music-loving mentor? I think the teacher would
    be satisfied with this reason to the extent that she felt the student wasn’t. I’m
    happy to take someone else’s word on the truth of many of my historical or
    scientific beliefs. I’m not, similarly, happy with my reliance on my mentor.
    The species of testimonial reasons that figure in aspiration are special in just
    the way that the vagueness of an aspirant’s conception of her end is special.
    The testimonial element in aspiration is of a distinctively degenerative kind:
    the present legitimacy and authority of the mentor’s voice is conditioned
    on—indeed, anticipates—its gradual evanescence. And in characterizing
    this curious species of testimony, we have, once again, helped ourselves to
    a dedicated, aspirational species of the genus in question.
    6.2.4 Reasons of Competition
    Many large-scale transformative pursuits are, at some point or other, fueled by
    a desire to position oneself at the top of some group of people engaged in a
    similar pursuit. Wanting to be better than others at something is a very
    powerful motive. The mathematician G. H. Hardy writes that he initially
    “thought of mathematics in terms of examinations and scholarships: I wanted
    to beat other boys, and this seemed to be the way in which I could do so most
    decisively” (2005 [1940]: 46). We frequently encounter such competitiveness
    in athletic, musical, intellectual, and artistic pursuits. People even get competitive about their hobbies. But there are—again—two kinds of competitiveness.
    In one kind of case, I compete in order to display my excellence or submit
    it for assessment. So: I would like my excellence to be praised, celebrated,
    renowned to others. Or I would like to know how good I am, perhaps to be
    reassured that I really am as good as people say I am. Competition can be a
    way of gauging one’s excellence, by measuring it against the excellence of
    others, or flaunting it, by demonstrating its superiority to the excellence of
    others. Such flaunting can itself spring from a variety of motives—for
    instance, I might want to flaunt my excellence as a physicist in order to
    inspire other young women to become physicists. Whatever the ultimate
    motive, competition of this kind is characterized by a desire to make known
    to others or to myself a virtue that I already have.
    Proleptic Reasons
    In another kind of case, the point of competition is to allow me to strive
    for excellence in an open-ended way. The thought of being better than the
    people around me is a powerful motivator for making something of myself
    when I don’t know exactly what it is I want to make of myself. Hardy
    I found at once, when I came to Cambridge, that a Fellowship implied ‘original
    work’, but it was a long time before I formed any definite idea of research. I had of
    course found at school, as every future mathematician does, that I could often do
    things much better than my teachers; and even at Cambridge, I found, though
    naturally much less frequently, that I could sometimes do things better than the
    College lecturers. But I was really quite ignorant, even when I took the Tripos, of the
    subjects on which I have spent the rest of my life; and I still thought of mathematics
    as essentially a ‘competitive’ subject. (1940: 47)
    If the motivations driving Hardy to become one of the twentieth century’s greatest mathematicians were competitive in nature, this competitiveness must have been of a singularly hungry kind. In this kind of case,
    competitiveness is a way of holding open a door for the person I’m trying
    to become. I’m competing in order to become excellent, rather than in order
    to show that I already am. When the prize arrives it turns out to be not what
    I really wanted; I am already preparing for the next competition. The value
    for the sake of which I compete is not one on which I have a good grip.
    I compete for the sake of a future or anticipated value that I, as of now, only
    incompletely understand. This form of competitiveness is proleptic
    6.2.5 Reasons of Pretense
    David Velleman (2002) has proposed that we emulate ideals by pretending
    to satisfy them. He offers as an example of pretense his own experiences of
    mock-aggression in his martial arts class. He then analyzes a case of quitting
    smoking as one in which the subject pretends to be a non-smoker and then
    gets “carried away” (2002: 100 et passim) with the pretense. Velleman
    acknowledges that, on his conception of it, such behavior is somewhat
    irrational: “when a smoker draws on an ideal for motivation to quit, his
    behavior is in some respects irrational” (2002: 101). He characterizes such
    agents as “hav[ing] reasons to make themselves temporarily irrational.”
    Velleman seems to think that the irrationality in question is only of a
    harmless, temporary kind. I find it to be neither harmless nor temporary.
    The whole idea of such an account is to sever someone’s “outer” reasons for
    adopting the pretense from the reasons as they appear to him once he’s
    inside it. Velleman’s thought is that the agent thereby makes a new set of
    Agnes Callard
    reasons available to himself, which he can leverage into personal change. But
    once one adopts an account of this kind, one cannot rely on the rationality
    of the outer reasons to vouchsafe that of the inner ones. Consider that one
    can have all sorts of reasons for “pretending” to be some way—someone can
    pay me money, I can do it on a lark, I can be an actor in a play. If I get
    “carried away” and fail to snap out of it, I seem to exhibit some kind of
    mental illness. I’ve become trapped inside my own game. Velleman offers no
    principled reason why we should not understand the smoker, and emulation
    in general, as (possibly)6 luckier victims of the same deep and permanent
    In aspirational cases, the failure to shed the pretense is salutary rather than
    pathological. But this is connected to the fact that it is not mere pretense.
    When I pretend or engage in make-believe, I close my eyes to the world
    around me, sometimes literally, the better to imagine a world that isn’t
    actually there. It is crucial to my willingness to engage in such activity that
    I see it as temporary. Large-scale transformative projects—including that of
    quitting smoking—are not like this. If I aspire to become a non-smoker,
    I am not pretending to be one already. Rather, I want to come to see the
    world in the way in which a non-smoker does, because I think that is the
    right way to see things.7 I’m not closing my eyes, I’m fighting to open them
    and to keep them open. Velleman’s conception of aspiration corresponds to
    Iris Murdoch’s description of humanity in general: “man is the creature who
    makes pictures of himself and then comes to resemble the picture” (1996:
    252). I think the aspirant makes pictures of himself in order to resemble the
    Pretending is different from trying, but I don’t want to deny that trying
    can involve pretense of a special kind. Imagination does not function only as
    momentary escape from reality; I can, perhaps, imagine my way into
    becoming someone. Here the function of the imagination is not to fashion
    a substitute world, but to help us move ourselves closer to some reality we
    already have some grip on. I might, for instance, adopt the mannerisms of
    the kind of person I’m trying to be. If this were an act of aspiration, it would
    pain me somewhat to do so, because it is not enough for me to act like that
    person when what I want is to be that person. We cannot analyze aspiration
    6 Only possibly luckier, because there are both bad ideals and (morally) good roles for
    7 I should note that not every would-be non-smoker aspires to quit. It is possible to
    have a simpler goal of modifying one’s behavior, as in the case of Sue the overspender (see
    above, p. 137). The aspiring non-smoker is marked by the fact that she wants not only to
    behave differently, but also to come to see things differently, to cease seeing smoking as
    Proleptic Reasons
    in terms of pretense because the kind of pretense we would need to invoke is
    an aspirational kind.
    6.2.6 Approximating Reasons
    Perhaps the value under which the pursuit is conducted is close, though not
    identical, to the value of the end. At the end stages of a transformative
    pursuit, I may have access to something close enough to the final value to
    justify pursuit. So, for instance, I might appreciate Mozart’s light operas,
    and this gives me reason to listen to his symphonies, and this leads me to
    Bach. We might try to make up a kind of series of progressively approximating values to lead the music student from music she likes to the music
    that the class is designed to get her to appreciate. Highlights of such a series
    might look like this: Taylor Swift, the Beatles, Rogers and Hammerstein,
    Gilbert and Sullivan, Puccini, Mozart, Bach. The question is: does this series
    represent a subtle shift in value over time, or does it represent one single
    value getting progressively clarified and approximated to? Does she say, at
    the end, “now I see what I was after all along?”
    In the first case—subtle shift—we should imagine the value transition as
    analogous to a move from yellow to blue along the color spectrum by
    imperceptibly different shades. But this is a variant of the “go for the
    exercise, stay for the movie” scenario. For the reason grounding the aspirant’s activity when she’s in the yellow region diverges from the reason in the
    blue region in such a way as to break up her pursuit into a series of rationally
    disconnected activities. From the fact that it is impossible to say where one
    ends and the other begins, it does not follow that there is no difference
    between the two. If it’s a progressive clarification, there’s no such worry: the
    gradual shift in value would be guided throughout by the agent’s sense that
    some target value is being approximated, like an image gradually coming
    into focus. But this is just what we mean in speaking of proleptic reasons.
    For a proleptic reason just is a reason by which an agent grasps, in an
    incomplete and anticipatory way, the reason that she will act on once her
    pursuit is successful.
    Recourse to other reasons, be they approximating or vague or testimonial
    reasons, or reasons of pretense or self-management or competition, does not
    obviate the need for introducing a distinctive proleptic species of reason.
    I don’t claim that my list exhausts all possible alternatives, but I do think it
    covers much of the rational territory. Moreover, there is a certain pattern
    that repeats itself, indicating a general strategy which the champion of
    proleptic reason should adopt in the face of some additional contender. If
    someone says that large-scale transformative pursuits can be rationalized by
    Agnes Callard
    familiar, X-ish reasons, the proleptic reasons theorist will try to demonstrate
    that only a (proleptic) subspecies of X-ish reasons can hope to rationalize a
    distinctively aspirational pursuit.
    Proleptic reasons are—I conclude—the reasons that rationalize largescale transformative pursuits. A proleptic reason is an acknowledgedly
    immature variant of a standard reason. It has the built-in structural
    complexity of that which is, in essence, parasitic. A proleptic reasoner is
    moved to φ by some consideration that, taken by itself, would (in her
    view) provide inadequate reason for φ-ing. But she is not moved by that
    consideration taken by itself; rather, she is moved by that consideration (be
    it competitive, testimonial, approximating, etc.) as a stand-in for another
    one. The proleptic reasoner uses the only valuational resources she has at
    her disposal—namely, her current desires, attachments etc. both to mark
    the inadequacy of those very resources and to move herself towards a better
    valuational condition.
    The reader may wonder why I invoke a new species of reason rather
    than speaking of a proleptic grasp of a (standard) reason. I do not think
    that much hangs on whether we attach the property of being proleptic to
    a reason itself, as opposed to the quality of someone’s apprehension of
    that reason. My interest is in a set of thoughts, actions, desires, choices,
    and projects that neither exhibit a standard form of rationality, nor are to
    be discounted as irrational. The distinctiveness of proleptic rationality is
    my topic, whether we spell this out as a distinctive way of grasping
    reasons, or a grasp of a distinctive kind of reason. But there are considerations that speak in favor of the latter formulation. One context in
    which we might speak of proleptic reasons is to explain why someone did
    what he did. In this kind of case, a proleptic reason lends intelligibility to
    some bit of behavior. If we choose to speak of a “proleptic grasp” of a
    reason, then it will turn out that in proleptic cases, reasons do not explain
    behavior—rather, grasps do. And it is awkward to speak of actions as
    being explained by grasps, and natural to speak of them as being
    explained by reasons.
    We also invoke reasons when we recommend a course of action. Suppose
    a mentor tells her student to φ in such a way as to be making a proleptic
    reasons statement: she can see, on the basis of what she knows about him,
    and her expertise in φ-ing, that he ought to aspire to φ. She cannot be read
    as saying that he has a proleptic grasp, for her point is to inform him about
    something he is missing. Nor is she confessing to such a grasp—for,
    presumably, she grasps that same reason non-proleptically. We could
    describe her as asserting that he ought to have a kind of grasp that he
    doesn’t yet have; but the more natural thing to say is that she is alerting him
    to the presence of a special kind of reason.
    Proleptic Reasons
    6 . 3 IN T E R N A L R E A S O N S
    I have argued that proleptic reasons don’t fit into any of the categories of
    reasons we are antecedently inclined to recognize; if I am right, there is a
    lacuna in non-technical, ordinary thought about the kinds of reasons people
    have for doing the things they do. My contention is that philosophers and
    non-philosophers alike would do better to acknowledge that proleptic
    reasons are a distinctive, but genuine, way to be rational. Elsewhere,8
    I discuss the ethical import of such acknowledgement. I take as my example
    an infertile woman who wants children, and show how certain characteristic
    failures of empathy towards such a person are the product of our tendency to
    turn a blind eye to such a person’s strong, though merely proleptic, attachment to the project and values of motherhood. Thus I believe that proleptic
    reasons represent a philosophical contribution to everyday ethical thought.
    I also believe that they represent a philosophical contribution to philosophical theorizing about ethics—specifically, to decision theory and moral
    psychology. Edna Ullmann-Margalit (2006) has argued that decision theory
    does not have the resources to account for the rationality of large-scale
    transformative projects, because the decision theorist can only analyze the
    rationality of decisions in which preferences, or at the very least core
    preferences, remain fixed. As she correctly acknowledges, agents who
    become parents, emigrate from their homelands, or take up new careers
    not only experience fundamental shifts in preference, but often embark on
    these projects precisely in order to experience these shifts. Since she takes
    decision theory to be our only hope in this regard, she concludes that it is
    impossible to pursue such projects rationally. Laurie Paul (2014) has offered
    a similar argument, to the effect that it would be irrational to pursue these
    projects on the basis of a projection as to what it will be like to be at the
    endpoint.9 Though I am in broad agreement with the thrust of both arguments, I think, as should already be apparent, that it is possible to pursue these
    projects in a rational way. I argue elsewhere10 that the rationality of large-scale
    transformative projects is essentially extended in time, by contrast with
    8 Callard (MS: conclusion).
    9 Paul does not share Margalit’s skepticism, because she thinks that we can make these
    decisions in a way which is rational at a second-order level: by determining whether we
    prefer preference change, or preference stasis. I argue elsewhere (Callard MS: ch. 1) that if
    this method were valid, it would, absurdly, entail that someone who has a reason to
    embark on one large-scale transformative pursuit—say, to have children—also, therefore,
    necessarily has a reason to embark on any other large-scale transformative pursuit—say, to
    travel the world or, for that matter, to have herself sterilized.
    10 Callard (MS: ch. 1).
    Agnes Callard
    the synchronic (momentary) rational structure characteristic of decisionmaking. Ullmann-Margalit and Paul ask what it would take to be justified
    in the decision to take a music appreciation class, go to college, embark on
    some career, become a parent. I think this is the wrong question. The
    rationality of these pursuits only becomes visible to one who examines the
    agent over the extended period over which she is learning to become a music
    lover, a college student, a professional, a parent. The upshot of my discussion
    is to remove a burden from the decision theorist: it is not his job to explain
    how one rationally becomes a mother, or a music lover. It is the theorist of
    aspiration who, armed with proleptic reasons, is in a position to tell us what it
    is for these large life transitions to be made rationally. Thus proleptic rationality narrows the explanatory scope of, and thereby contributes to our understanding of, formal decision theory.
    I want to devote the remainder of this chapter to developing the moral
    psychological implications of the theory of proleptic reasons. Proleptic
    reasons constitute a new challenge to the thesis of internalism about practical
    reasons.11 Internalism is a thesis about what it takes for someone to have a
    reason to do something. Internalists hold that an agent’s reasons must in
    some way be relativized to what she desires, where that term is construed
    broadly to include interests, commitments, attachments, preferences, etc.
    First espoused by Bernard Williams (1981), internalism has since found
    wide acceptance, though at the same time many of those who call themselves
    internalists are inclined to reject some element of Williams’ characterization
    of the position.
    Consider the following internalist theses:
    motivation condition: if R is a reason for S to φ, S is such as to
    be able to be moved by R.
    (j) justification condition: if R is a reason for S to φ, R can be
    arrived at by subjecting S’s set of desires to a rational procedure.
    Internalists have traditionally held both (m) and (j), and expressed their
    combination in some formulation such as this:
    11 Externalists such as Parfit (2011) go beyond negating internalism when they assert
    that not only are there external reasons, but all reasons are external—that is, not
    relativized to motivation. Thus there is space between the two views, which is where
    the proleptic reasons theorist must reside. For in proleptic cases, whether you have reason
    to become a mother or a philosopher, take up knitting or piano, etc. does depend—
    though not in the way an internalist can capture—on whether you are motivationally such
    as to be able to come to enjoy the end-state. For it is in the activity of enjoying the end
    that you derive meaning from the activity in question, and, at least some of the time, what
    makes a project good or valuable just is the meaning that the agent derives from it.
    Proleptic Reasons
    R is a reason for S to φ iff, were S to deliberate in a procedurally
    rational way from his current set of desires, he would come to
    be motivated to by R.12
    Internalists have wanted both to deny that someone could be in the condition of being barred from access to his own reasons, and to insist that reasons
    for action justify those actions in the light of the agent’s desires. In short,
    I have whatever reasons would move me, if I were fully rational. Recently,
    some philosophers have called into question whether internal reasons can do
    both of these jobs. (mj) lends itself to the “conditional fallacy,” which
    amounts to a kind of blind spot for reasons that depend on one’s irrationality.13 Richard Johnson (1999) describes someone who has a reason to see a
    therapist, because he is deluded into thinking that he is James Bond. “James
    Bond” cannot arrive at this reason himself: for if he were in a position to
    reason correctly on this point, he wouldn’t (so the story goes) have any need
    for therapy. Likewise, Michael Smith (1995) describes a sore loser so
    incensed by his defeat that he is inclined to punch his opponent at the end
    of the game. Given this inclination, he doesn’t have a reason to approach his
    opponent at the end of the game for a handshake, though that is exactly what
    his fully rational, and therefore less irascible, counterpart has reason to do.
    Johnson has argued that the only way around the conditional fallacy is to
    give up (mj) by giving up either (m) or (j); and Julia Markovits (2011a) has
    recently made the case for the former option. She argues that we have
    independent reason to give up (m), since there are circumstances in which
    we aren’t, and shouldn’t be, motivated to φ by the best reason for φ. For
    instance, a pilot executing an emergency landing might be well advised not
    to act for the sake of saving hundreds of lives, because being motivated by
    this reason might put so much psychological pressure on him as to interfere
    with his performance of the task.14 She advocates for a weaker version of
    internalism based only on (j).
    12 By omitting reference to beliefs I elide the difference, here immaterial, between
    subjective and objective reasons. A subjective reason would be one arrived at by deliberation
    from the agent’s current set of desires and current set of beliefs, whereas objective reasons
    would presuppose deliberating from a belief-set corrected for falsity and supplemented
    with any missing (and relevant) true beliefs (see Markovits (2011b) for this way of
    formulating the distinction).
    13 Though Markovits (2011a) argues that one can broaden the class of counterexamples to include ones—such as Kavka’s toxin puzzle, or cases where one has pragmatic
    reasons to hold a belief—in which the agent’s inability to access the relevant reason is due
    not to her irrationality, but rather to certain strictures that rationality places on us.
    14 I do have a worry here, however: in another paper, Markovits (2010) argues that an
    action is only morally worthy if the agent is motivated by the reasons that morally justify
    the action. It is not clear to me how weak internalism is consistent with that view, given
    that Markovits presumably wants to claim that the pilot in this example is to be (morally)
    Agnes Callard
    I will argue that internalists—even weak internalists—are guilty of selling
    proleptic rationality short. But first some preliminaries. The weak internalist
    takes it that the reasons we have depend rationally on our desires. Internalists
    might spell out this rational dependence in a variety of ways: in terms of
    instrumental rationality (Hume, as understood by Williams 1981), of the
    presence of a sound deliberative route (Williams 1981), of the absence of
    rational defects (Korsgaard 1986), of procedural rationality or the reasoning
    of an ideally rational agent (Markovits 2011a and 2011b); of satisfying
    norms of consistency and coherence in such a way as to be “systematically
    justifiable” (Smith 1995: 114). All of these ways of cashing out the dependence point at some analog to formal validity: the method in question does
    not add any content to one’s ends, but rather takes the content already
    present in them and shows what reasons follow from it. The idea is: given
    that “James Bond” has an interest in his mental health, and also has some
    form of mental illness, it follows that he has reason to seek help—even if he,
    himself, is not in a position to appreciate this reason. Seeking mental help is
    the kind of behavior that would be consistent with the aim of mental health,
    when it is combined with the presence of mental illness. We might also
    speak of actions that answer or correspond to one’s ends. The weak internalist might put his point thus:15 you have the reasons that an impartial third
    party observer would take you to have, if he were reasoning about what
    reasons you have in a procedurally rational way from your desires.
    One more quick point of clarification: internalists can—and do—offer us
    internalist accounts both of pro tanto reasons and of all-things-considered
    reasons. Take Williams’ (1981) example of Owen Wingrave, whose family
    insists that tradition gives him reason to enlist, in spite of his deep hatred of
    all things military. When Williams says that Owen has no reason to enlist,
    does he means that Owen lacks even a pro tanto reason to do so? It is hard to
    imagine someone who, in Owen’s circumstances, sees literally nothing
    speaking in favor of enlisting: surely the fact that his family strongly wants
    him to enlist is at least a (very weak) consideration in favor of doing so?
    Presumably, even if he allowed that Owen saw some (minimal) reason to
    enlist, Williams would still want to resist the family’s insistence that
    credited with saving all those lives. Moreover, it seems to me that the considerations she
    rightly adduces in favor of the conclusion of her 2010 paper—such as pointing out that
    we are not always aware of the considerations that motivate us—cut against those she uses,
    in Markovits (2011a), to argue in favor of not being motivated by the justifying reason.
    15 Markovits puts the point in this way in a footnote (13) of her 2011b paper, though
    the footnote appears only in the online version of the paper, available at https://sites.; as she points out there, both Smith (1994:
    section 5.9) and Railton (1986: 174) offer re-formulations of internalism in the same
    Proleptic Reasons
    enlisting is what he has an all-things-considered reason to do. For whatever
    glancing respect he harbors for tradition, or whatever weak desire he has to
    please his parents, is dwarfed by his powerful hatred of the military. In what
    follows, we will set pro tanto reasons aside: “S has a reason to φ,” means,
    henceforth, that φ-ing is what S has a reason to do, all things considered.
    The problem is that the proleptically rational agent has a reason that not
    only she, but even a fully rational third party observer, will have trouble
    extracting from the content of her antecedent desires. Suppose the good
    student of music appreciation has a choice between spending an hour of her
    evening listening to a symphony, or devoting that hour to a hobby she
    thoroughly enjoys. Let us assume that listening to music will not serve any
    end of hers apart from her (still weak) interest in enjoying music for its own
    sake. The internalist must direct her to pursue the hobby she already enjoys a
    great deal over developing her nascent love of music. For that action coheres
    better with her current set of desires and interests. But if this were always good
    advice, we would hardly ever have reason to develop new interests, values,
    relationships, etc., for there is virtually always something else we could be
    doing that we enjoy more than, and which satisfies our other ends better than,
    the new form of valuation we have yet to acquire fully.
    The problem is not merely that she does not, from where she currently
    stands, have a rational line of sight to the end whose value justifies her
    activity. For weak internalists are willing to grant that agents have more
    reasons than they can see their way to acknowledging. The problem is that
    unlike in Johnson’s “James Bond” case or Smith’s sore loser case, the
    impartial rational spectator is no better off than the agent herself. If he
    could somehow reason from the person’s future condition, in which (let us
    suppose) love of music has become the central aesthetic pleasure of her adult
    life, it would be clear that she ought to listen to the symphony. But the
    internalist is restricted to extracting what the agent should do by applying a
    procedurally rational method onto her antecedent desires, cares, interest,
    loves, etc. The internalist must counsel us to stick with immediate and
    available pleasures over embarking on the arduous process of developing a
    sensibility for new and perhaps higher ones. He seems to be giving us a form
    of advice that would have irked no one so much as Bernard Williams
    himself: be philistines!
    My claim is that the internalist cannot capture the affective difference
    between the person I have called the “bad student,” who is satisfied with her
    minimal appreciation of music, and the person who likewise harbors a
    minimal appreciation but aspires to become a music lover. I want now to
    consider some responses on the part of the internalist—some desires that he
    could point to in order to explain why the second has reason to listen while
    the first might lack it.
    Agnes Callard
    First, consider the desires that correspond to what I have called the
    reason’s “proximate face.” The aspiring music lover has promised herself
    chocolate for making it through the movement, and sustains her listening by
    imagining making a dramatic entrance in a concert hall on a snowy moonlit
    evening. The bad student lacks these forms of motivation. Will the internalist be able to point to these differences in their ends as accounting for the
    differences in their reasons? No. In order to motivate oneself successfully
    through some mechanism such as appetite or fantasy, the subordinate
    reason’s motivational force must outstrip that of one’s ultimate aims—but
    its justificatory force cannot do so. So, for instance, if I am trying to
    motivate myself to lose weight by promising to buy myself a nice dress,
    but losing weight will in fact frustrate more of my ends than it will satisfy,
    then my desire for a dress cannot be a source of good reasons. For the very
    fact that it is irrational for me to be trying to lose weight entails that it is
    irrational for me to be setting up incentives for myself to facilitate that
    Alternatively, consider the class of desires that pertain, in a higher-order
    way, to the distal face—for example, a desire to desire to listen to music
    more than one does, a desire to see what all the fuss is about, music-wise, or
    a desire to become a music lover. Even if it is true that the good student has
    these desires, and the bad one lacks them, pointing to that difference cannot
    help the internalist explain the fact that the good student has a reason to
    listen. For the rational ground of these higher-order desires lies not in any
    extraneous benefit that having a stronger desire to listen to music, understanding the source of the fuss, or becoming a music lover would afford her.
    At least not in the case I’m imagining: someone who wants to become a
    music lover in order, for example, to please her parents raises no problem for
    the internalist. For her “additional desire” plugs into independent motivations that can indeed rationalize her choice in a straightforwardly internalist
    way. But in the case of the good student, the rational ground of her higherorder desires—the reason why she has them—is once again simply the
    intrinsic value of music. And this is a value she is, currently, ill-placed to
    appreciate. So all of these desires bottom out in a valuation of music that is
    (I posit) too weak, as it stands, to underwrite an internalistic justification of
    doing much of anything in its service.
    Perhaps, instead of claiming that the aspirant’s reasons are based in her
    desires, we should allow that they might be based in her beliefs. There is a
    kind of internalist16 who holds that one of the things that can rationally
    16 Namely, the kind of internalist who thinks that beliefs can give rise to desires. See
    Nagel (1970: ch. 5) for the canonical statement of this view.
    Proleptic Reasons
    ground a desire (or a desire to have a desire) is a belief in the value of the
    object that you desire (to desire). Why couldn’t an agent’s belief that music
    is intrinsically valuable be justified independently of, and therefore underwrite, her project of changing her affective response to music? If this is
    possible, and I think it is, then there is a version of this agent that is fully
    analyzable in terms of internal reasons.
    The person who believes that music is valuable, but doesn’t enjoy music
    or doesn’t enjoy it very much, comes in two varieties. The first takes herself
    to know perfectly well the value of music, despite the fact that she takes less
    pleasure in listening to music than she thinks she could. She might work on
    herself to try to get herself to enjoy music more (or at all), simply for the
    reason that her life could contain more aesthetic pleasure than it does. Her
    music listening is, indeed, rationalizable by way of internal reasons—but
    those reasons are not proleptic, because she does not take herself to have
    anything to learn, value-wise.17 Manipulating one’s affective responses so
    that they match the way one independently knows they should be is a real
    phenomenon, but it is not the one I seek to explain here.
    If, on the other hand, she takes her own belief in the value of music to be
    in some way a defective appreciation of its value, since full appreciation
    would presuppose enjoyment of music, her belief will not suffice to rationally ground her attempts to access it. For she does not take her belief already
    to afford her (full) rational access to the value she is working to come into
    (better) contact with. This second case is the proleptic one that I claim
    internalists cannot accommodate. Such a person is willing to work harder to
    enjoy music than her belief can, by the logic of internalism, rationally
    support. Her willingness stems from her sense that there is more value out
    there than she has yet been able to take account of either cognitively or
    Why can’t the internalist simply allow that the good student has, in
    addition to any of the desires mentioned above, an aspiration to appreciate
    music? Internalists are famously open minded about exactly what forms of
    motivation or ends or conation might constitute the ground of one’s
    reasons. I have claimed to use the word “desire” broadly—as internalists
    themselves often do—to cover all this whole class. They might suspect that,
    in this discussion, I have actually used it more narrowly, in such a way as to
    exclude unfairly the one kind of pro-attitude relevant to differentiating the
    good student from the bad one. But this is not the case. I do not want to
    deny the internalist recourse to the concept of being disposed to be
    17 I discuss this phenomenon at greater length in Callard (MS: ch. 6), where I call it
    Agnes Callard
    motivated in a way that outstrips the reasons derivable from their current
    motivational set. The problem is that she cannot make room for the fact that
    any of those motivations is rational. For the internalist, letting “aspiration”
    into one’s subjective motivational set simply means letting in a tendency to
    be motivated in an incoherent and procedurally irrational way. What the
    internalist cannot do is to derive the good music student’s reasons not
    merely from her aspiration but from her rational aspiration. For her theory,
    as I’ve been arguing, gives us no way to see how that phrase could be
    anything but an oxymoron.
    At this point, we may feel some nostalgia for old-school internalism.
    Markovits ascribes reasons to me on the basis of what a third party,
    impartial, perfect reasoner would take as answering to my present motivational condition. Williams, by contrast, is interested in what reasons I, with
    all my imperfections, could arrive at. It is true that Williams must understand what I “could arrive at” in a way that includes the concept of
    rationality—that is, as “could rationally arrive at”—but he nonetheless has
    a broader and in a certain way softer construal of what it means to arrive
    rationally at some conclusion. He doesn’t seem interested in specifying a
    procedure that could be vouchsafed as formally valid, and therefore
    employed in an identical form by any rational agent. Rather, he seems to
    want to claim that an agent must be in a position somehow or other to see
    her way to any reason we are to count as her own. Hence his famously—to
    some, aggravatingly—open-minded conception of what such “deliberation”
    consists in: “practical reasoning is a heuristic process, and an imaginative
    one, and there are no fixed boundaries on the continuum from rational
    thought to inspiration and conversion” (1981: 110).
    Williams’ followers have tended to be much more restrictive than he was
    in what they are willing to count as rational deliberation. It has seemed to
    some that without such restrictions it is not clear what the theory means to
    rule out, and thus what the contrast with externalism is meant to amount to.
    Others have harbored substantive worries about some of the forms of
    reasoning that Williams wants to admit. For instance, Smith objects that
    “the imagination is liable to all sorts of distorting influences, influences that
    it is the role of systematic reasoning to sort out” (1995: 116).18 Finally, as
    I observed above, the conditional fallacy has driven still others, such as
    Markovits, to place at the heart of internalism the idea of what can be
    deduced by a valid procedure from a given set of desires.
    Whatever the disadvantages of Williams’ internalism, it might seem to
    be in a better position to accommodate proleptic reasoning than weak
    18 This for a variety of reasons.
    Proleptic Reasons
    internalism. Indeed, I believe Williams himself may have thought that by
    emphasizing the role of the imagination in reasoning, he was skirting the
    worry about philistinism I’ve been pressing here. When Williams warns
    against an overly narrow conception of what a “sound deliberative route”
    may consist in, reminding us that “the imagination can create new possibilities and new desires” (1981: 104–5), he may have large-scale transformative pursuits in mind. For it is true that we use our imaginations to grasp the
    value that a radically new form of life has to offer us. The problem is that we
    cannot do so well enough to generate an internal reason. The music student
    uses her imagination to generate a fantasy about a snowy evening, and this
    imaginative work may well be crucial to her forward progress. But she
    cannot, in fantasizing in that way, foresee the real value that music will
    bring for her. Imagination simply doesn’t have that power. No matter how
    loosely we hold the reins, deliberation will not plot a course from the agent’s
    present condition to what I have called the distal face of her proleptic reason.
    We cannot attribute to the aspiring X-er imaginative or heuristic resources
    that so far outstrip her current motivational condition that she is able to
    imagine her way into the intrinsic value of X.
    Internalists may respond to this line of reasoning by beginning to doubt
    whether they want to accommodate proleptic rationality. There is no
    knowing whether an agent’s course of action will end in φ-ing until the
    course has, in fact, ended. Are we to ascribe proleptic reasons only retrospectively, on the basis of successful φ-ing? Internalists may raise the same
    kind of objection to recognizing proleptic rationality that Smith raises to
    Williams’ idea of the imagination as a source of reasons. They may doubt
    whether there is a fact of the matter as to whether what an agent does in the
    service of such an indeterminate goal is, or is not, proleptically rational.
    They may question whether it is even possible to ascertain that someone
    who takes herself to have a proleptic reason in fact does not, or vice versa.
    I grant that in the early stages, proleptic rationality may indeed be
    tenuous enough to be immune to rational critique. Aspiration begins as
    something like wish or hope, and we would tend not to tell someone she
    “shouldn’t” have such and such a long-term wish, or that her cherished
    hopes for her future self are “irrational.” Rational criticism does, however,
    eventually become appropriate. At some point on the way to her goal, the
    agent enters a space in which it becomes fitting for someone—though,
    perhaps, not just anyone—to say either “try harder, you can do this” or
    “give up, this isn’t working for you.” These are the kinds of locutions by
    which we key someone in to the presence or absence of proleptic reasons.
    We can see the direction someone is heading, assessing her trajectory on the
    basis of the work she has done so far. We gauge whether she has it in her to
    make it to the endpoint, whether it is reasonable for her to proceed, or more
    Agnes Callard
    reasonable for her to try something else. Or, rather, those of us with the
    relevant expertise and the relevant familiarity with the aspirant do this.
    Though proleptic reasons are amenable to rational critique, the character
    who is in a position to offer this critique is not Markovits’ impartial,
    detached, perfectly rational observer. This observation may further incline
    the internalist to reject the rationality of proleptic reasons, but I think it
    should instead lead her to question the unargued-for assumption that the
    “perfectly rational agent” is the perfect arbiter of all practical reasons. If it
    were true that excellence with respect to procedural rationality alone—a
    kind of analytical prowess—puts someone in a position to determine what
    reasons a person has, philosophers would be much better at offering advice
    on any sort of practical topic than we in fact are. It is important to keep in
    mind that the set of examples with which we, philosophers, discuss practical
    rationality does not represent a random sample. Philosophers tend, quite
    reasonably, to gravitate towards examples that provide immediate spectatorial access. The “impartial rational observer” can determine without wanting
    anything, doing anything, or having any special expertise that breaking an
    egg is a rational means to the end of making an omelet, and that leaving the
    egg intact is not a rational means to the same end. In order to make the
    relevant determination, all one needs is an understanding of what eggs are,
    and what omelets are. When speaking to an audience—philosophers—
    without any special practical competence, it is useful to avail oneself of
    examples that can be assessed by any rational observer.
    But we should guard against taking such armchair assessability to be a
    feature of practical rationality itself. For instance, consider the difficulty of
    determining whether it is an intensive course, years of casual listening, or a
    season of concert-attendance that represent the rational means, for the
    would-be music lover, to realize her aspirations. One doesn’t know the
    answer to this question merely by knowing what the relevant items are. And
    not even a master of procedural rationality should, I think, venture to
    answer this question if she has never had any interest in music.
    At least some forms of practical rationality or irrationality may only be
    evident to those whose sensibilities—desires, emotions, intellects—have
    been shaped by the practice in question. In addition, such judgments
    often call for personal acquaintance with the subject whose proleptic rationality is being called into question. And even when an expert is assessing a
    subject she knows well, she will often be unable to judge whether the
    aspiration is rational or not until she has some actual extent of practice
    before her. Thinking about whether or not something will work out is not
    always a reasonable substitute for trying to work it out. It does not tell
    against the rationality of aspiration that a judgment as to whether someone
    has a proleptic reason is likely to be made on the basis of something like a
    Proleptic Reasons
    trial period, or evidence of similar past attempts, and that it is likely to call
    for personal acquaintance with and personal affection for both the subject in
    question and her aspirational target. Judgments of practical (ir)rationality
    sometimes call for practical experience.
    We acquire most, perhaps all, of our practical knowledge by responding
    to past experience. My interest has been in those cases in which the
    experience that we respond to is one that we ourselves have sought out;
    moreover, we sought it out for the (proleptic) reason that it produces this
    response. In those cases, we have guided ourselves to the new values or
    desires or commitments that our experience engenders. That process of selfguidance is a kind of practical learning. Because a process of learning some
    new form of valuation is not the same as a process of articulating or
    rendering consistent the values one already has, proleptic reasons break
    every internalist’s mold.
    Callard, A. MS. Aspiration.
    Hardy, G. 2005 (1940). A Mathematician’s Apology, published by the University of
    Alberta Mathematical Sciences Society, available since 2005 at http://www.math.
    Johnson, R. 1999. “Internal Reasons and the Conditional Fallacy,” Philosophical
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    Korsgaard, C. 1986. “Skepticism about Practical Reason,” Journal of Philosophy,
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    Little, M. 2008. “Abortion and the Margins of Personhood,” Rutgers Law Journal,
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    McGrath, S. 2011. “Skepticism about Moral Expertise as a Puzzle for Moral
    Realism,” Journal of Philosophy, 108, 111–37.
    Markovits, J. 2010. “Acting for the Right Reasons,” Philosophical Review, 119(2), 201–42.
    Markovits, J. 2011a. “Why Be an Internalist about Reasons?” In Russ Shafer-Landau
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    Murdoch, I. 1996. “Metaphysics and Ethics.” In Maria Antonaccio and William
    Schweiker (eds.), Iris Murdoch and the Search for Human Goodness. Chicago:
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    Ullmann-Margalit, Edna. 2006. “Big Decisions: Opting, Converting, Drifting.” In
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