In philosophy, practical reason is the use of reason to decide how to act. This contrasts with theoretical reason (often called speculative reason), which is the use of reason to decide what to believe. For example: agents use practical reason to decide how to build a telescope, but theoretical reason to decide which of two theories of light and optics is the best.

In cognitive research, practical reason is the process of ignoring unproductive possibilities in favor of productive possibilities. It is considered a form of cognitive bias, because it is illogical. An example would be calling all hospitals to look for your missing child, but not checking morgues, as finding his corpse would be 'counter-productive.'

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  • Charles Blattberg, From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, ch. 3. ISBN 0-19-829688-6. A critique of the conception of practical reason associated with pluralist moral and political philosophy in favour of a hermeneutical alternative.
  • Charles Taylor, "Explanation and Practical Reason," in Philosophical Arguments, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-674-66476-0.

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