Practical reductionism is a program based on the claim that the sole relevant information in the sphere of practical deliberation (and of its moral evaluation) is how good the envisaged action is, while the other traditional concepts offering practical and moral orientation – especially virtues – are at best superfluous (if they recommend the same as the inquiry of goodness) and in all other cases unintelligible and harmful (in so far as they pretend to be something good but recommend suboptimal action). Practical reductionism can be utilitarian, if the sole or dominant criterion of goodness is utility, and it can be cognitively optimistic, if it counts with the possibility to achieve perfect knowledge of the good itself and of the situation in which it should be applied. Such utilitarian and cognitively optimistic practical reductionism is a main topic in Plato’s Laches, and it (or some of its relatives) is present in several other dialogues, notably in the Charmides and the Protagoras. My aim in this paper is to elaborate the concept of practical reductionism (in close regard to the Laches), to show its presence in some other texts, and finally to consider the philosophical contribution of such a bizarre thought.
Practical reductionism, Imperative and consultative ethics, Plato, Laches, Charmides, Protagoras, Virtues, Aristotle on Socrates