The usual contrast is between "theoretical reason," where you are trying to figure out what is true or what to believe, vs "practical reason," where you are trying to figure out what to do.
"Practical" here refers to "praxis."
I never studied philosophy. Can someone kindly explain like I'm 5 the emboldened sentences below? Doesn't the example on p 88 prove that reasons not to harm DEPEND ON the defendant’s own practical reasoning and choices, and that reasons and fault are directly linked? Dr. Pam is not culpable for injecting Alex because "his allergy was unknown, and unknowable".
AP Simester, ‘Can negligence be culpable?’, in Jeremy Horder (ed.), Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence: Fourth Series (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p 87.
If negligence is truly a measure of culpability, there would seem to be a problem about this approach. Let us suppose, for argument’s sake, that the reasonable man standard identifies what the defendant ought, in the circumstances, to do; that if the reasonable man would Φ, the defendant’s failure to Φ is undesirable and a matter for regret. Even so, it does not follow from the proposition that an action is undesirable
that the actor should be blamed for it. Imagine that Pam, a doctor, injects Alex with a painkiller that produces an allergic reaction and causes his death. Pam’s killing Alex is undesirable, a matter for regret, but not (on these facts) a matter for blame. All things considered, Alex should not receive the injection. But if his allergy was unknown, and unknowable, Pam is not culpable for injecting him. Expressed in terms of criminal law doctrine, there is the actus reus of a homicide, but no mens rea.
That having been said, it does not follow that negligent inadvertence is blameworthy. So far, in denying the exclusivity of the choice thesis, all that has been achieved is the preservation of moral space to show that inadvertent behaviour can be culpable. We still need to establish how an ascription of culpability can be sustained.
In particular, it is not enough to rely on the (true) proposition that reasons not to inflict harm exist independently of the defendant’s own practical reasoning and choices. There is no direct link between reasons and fault. All things considered, Pam has an overriding reason not to inject Alex with the painkiller that will cause his death. But she is blameless when she acts without considering that reason. Omniscience is not required. We are therefore thrown back to the original question: if, all things considered, there is reason not to Φ, when does D’s Φing warrant an adverse moral inference about D? The choice theory accounts for one set of cases. Our challenge is to find an alternative basis for blame, one which offers a non-arbitrary distinction between those reasons D should consider (even if she does not) and reasons that D may neglect without censure.
Impliedly, legal doctrine takes the reasonable man to perform precisely that function. But does it? Prima facie, it is open to the defendant to claim that if the law employs an “objective” third-person standard to assess her behaviour, it cannot, without more, use the news that her behaviour is unreasonable to infer that she is culpable. The defendant may answer,
“perhaps the man on the Clapham omnibus would not act as I did. But I am not like that hypothetical ‘person’. Why, therefore, do I deserve blame for not doing what someone else would do? Baron Alderson’s standard tells us about a reasonable man, or perhaps about Baron Alderson. But how is it a comment on me?”