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Practical Reflection cover

Practical Reflection

J. David Velleman

“What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?” asks J. David Velleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. The face that you see is doing two things—trying to see itself and presenting itself to be seen. Velleman takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our conduct are aided by our reciprocal efforts to make it intelligible. He then argues that this reflective reasoning is what constitutes practical reasoning, the reasoning by which we figure out what to do. The thing to do, he claims, is the thing that would make sense, in that it would be intelligible. By applying this conception of practical reasoning, Velleman develops philosophical accounts of intention, free will, and the foundations of values and morals.

This edition includes a new Introduction, which outlines the contents and notes respects in which the author's views have changed.

J. David Velleman is professor of philosophy at New York University.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction to David Hume Series Edition
  • Introduction
  • Part One: An Agent's Self-Knowledge

  • Chapter One: Self-Understanding
  • Chapter Two: Self-Awareness
  • Part Two: Aspect of Agency

  • Chapter Three: Practical Reasoning
  • Chapter Four: Intentions
  • Chapter Five: Freedom
  • Chapter Six: Autonomy
  • Chapter Seven: Reasons for Acting
  • Part Three: Agency Extended

  • Chapter Eight: Into the Future
  • Chapter Nine: Below the Surface
  • Part Four: Rationality and Value

  • Chapter Ten: Evaluative Reasoning
  • Chapter Eleven: Morality
  • Bibliography
  • Index


ISBN (Paperback): 1575865343 (9781575865348)
ISBN (electronic): 1575867192 (9781575867199)

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