Western philosophy orbits around the concept of reason almost as closely as it orbits around the concept of truth. Western philosophers, in disagreeing with each other, are frequently disagreeing about what reason is, what it does, and what it is entitled to do.
This will be our second meetup in the structured "disputation" format. Two of our members will prepare presentations, formally defending their distinct answers to the title question. After each presentation, other attendees will present comments and rebuttals. Formalized rounds of objections and replies will lead gradually back into our more traditional mode of free conversation.
Our two presenters will give special attention to the question of whether reason has any non-instrumental function. Reason is instrumentally functional when it helps to bring about states of affairs that we have some non-epistemic stake in bringing about. This is a variation on the theme that Hume was likewise varying when he pronounced reason "the slave of the passions". If reason is not its own master, then it cannot judge its own functionality - other standards like pragmatic success and pleasure must do that.
Does reason sometimes function properly - do we reason properly - in ways that cannot be cashed out in terms of our other standing, non-rational objectives? Is there something intrinsically valuable, self-justifying, about the practice of making good inferences?