Finnis' Principle of Practical Reason
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> Finnis' Principle of Practical Reason
Example | Discussion | So
Finnis (1983) described a set of rules for reasoning:
- Have a harmonious set of orientations, purposes and commitments. Seek to
integrate the objectives and commitments and practices involved in and
affected by any particular decision.
- Do not leave out of account, or arbitrarily discount or exaggerate any
of the basic human goods.
- Do not arbitrarily discriminate between people.
- Do not attribute to any particular project the overriding and
unconditional significance which only a basic human good and a general
commitment can claim.
- Pursue one's general commitments with creativity and do not abandon them
- Employ efficient means to objectives.
- Do not overlook the foreseeable bad consequences of your choices. Seek
to identify and take responsibility for predictable consequences of any
decision on the full roster of well-being dimensions, even if these are
- Do not deliberately harm any dimension of human well-being.
- Foster the common good.
In these, Finnis provides a framework for rational and moral decisions.
Several underlying factors appear that highlight the importance of:
- Harmony in achieving happiness.
- Choosing carefully and not taking arbitrary action.
- Acting with commitment once choices are made.
- Seeking to do things well.
- The importance of helping and not harming others.
Finnis works from a principle of 'Natural Law', where it is assumed that
there is natural order of things and that finding these and working with them
will produce effective results.
If you can use these rules in thinking and choosing, you may find that you
will make better decisions. Likewise, you could use them in facilitating the
decisions of others.
Finnis, J. (1983). The Fundamentals of Ethics, Oxford: Oxford