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Making a decision is a way of forming an intention, at least other things equal. In making a decision we seem to be active – decisions seem to be mental actions. One question philosophers have asked about decisions is whether and in what sense decisions really are actions. Other questions include: (i) what makes a decision rational? (ii) do decisions provide reasons to act as you have decided? (iii) are decisions reducible to other kinds of mental states or events (e.g. desire-formation). Since decisions lead to intentions, many discussions of intentions are also relevant to discussions of decisions, and vice-versa.

Key works For discussion of whether decisions are actions, see Mele 2000 and Pink 1996. For discussion of the rationality of decisions and of whether decisions give us reasons to act, see Pink 1996Smith 1991, and Cullity 2008.
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  1. Chrisoula Andreou (2009). Taking on Intentions. Ratio 22 (2):157-169.
    I propose a model of intention formation and argue that it illuminates and does justice to the complex and interesting relationships between intentions on the one hand and practical deliberation, evaluative judgements, desires, beliefs, and conduct on the other. As I explain, my model allows that intentions normally stem from pro-attitudes and normally control conduct, but it is also revealing with respect to cases in which intentions do not stem from pro-attitudes or do not control conduct. Moreover, it makes the (...)
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  2. Chrisoula Andreou, Dynamic Choice. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. Chrisoula Andreou (2007). Environmental Preservation and Second-Order Procrastination. Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (3):233–248.
  4. Chrisoula Andreou (2007). Understanding Procrastination. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37 (2):183–193.
    Procrastination is frustrating. Because the procrastinator's frustration is self-imposed, procrastination can also be quite puzzling. I consider attempts at explaining, or explaining away, what appear to be genuine cases of procrastination. According to the position that I propose and defend, genuine procrastination exists and is supported by preference loops, which can be either stable or evanescent.
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  5. Chrisoula Andreou & Mariam Thalos (2007). Sense and Sensibility. American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (1):71 - 80.
  6. Michael Bratman (1984). Two Faces of Intention. Philosophical Review 93 (3):375-405.
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  7. Michael Bratman (1981). Intention and Means-End Reasoning. Philosophical Review 90 (2):252-265.
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  8. Michael E. Bratman (2009). Intention, Practical Rationality, and Self‐Governance. Ethics 119 (3):411-443.
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  9. Michael E. Bratman (1992). Planning and the Stability of Intention. Minds and Machines 2 (1):1-16.
    I sketch my general model of the roles of intentions in the planning of agents like us-agents with substantial resource limitations and with important needs for coordination. I then focus on the stability of prior intentions: their rational resistance to reconsideration. I emphasize the importance of cases in which one's nonreconsideration of a prior intention is nondeliberative and is grounded in relevant habits of reconsideration. Concerning such cases I argue for a limited form of two-tier consequentialism, one that is restricted (...)
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  10. John Brunero (2007). Are Intentions Reasons? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (4):424–444.
    This paper presents an objection to the view that intentions provide reasons and shows how this objection is also inherited by the more commonly accepted Tie-Breaker view, according to which intentions provide reasons only in tie-break situations. The paper also considers and rejects T. M. Scanlon's argument for the Tie-Breaker view and argues that philosophers might be drawn to accept the problematic Tie-Breaker view by confusing it with a very similar, unproblematic view about the relation between intentions and reasons in (...)
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  11. Ruth Chang (2009). Reflections on the Reasonable and the Rational in Conflict Resolution. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):133 - 160.
    Most familiar approaches to social conflict moot reasonable ways of dealing with conflict, ways that aim to serve values such as legitimacy, justice, morality, fairness, fidelity to individual preferences, and so on. In this paper, I explore an alternative approach to social conflict that contrasts with the leading approaches of Rawlsians, perfectionists, and social choice theorists. The proposed approach takes intrinsic features of the conflict—what I call a conflict's evaluative 'structure'—as grounds for a rational way of responding to that conflict. (...)
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  12. Ruth Chang (2001). Two Conceptions of Reasons for Action. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (2):447–453.
  13. Michael Cholbi (2014). The Implications of Ego Depletion for the Ethics and Politics of Manipulation. In C. Coons M. E. Weber (ed.), Manipulation:Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press. 201-220.
    A significant body of research suggests that self-control and willpower are resources that become depleted as they are exercised. Having to exert self-control and willpower draws down the reservoir of these resources and make subsequent such exercises more difficult. This “ego depletion” renders individuals more susceptible to manipulation by exerting non-rational influences on our choice and conduct. In particular, ego depletion results in later choices being less governable by our powers of self-control and willpower than earlier choices. I draw out (...)
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  14. Randolph Clarke (2008). Autonomous Reasons for Intending. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (2):191 – 212.
    An autonomous reason for intending to A would be a reason for so intending that is not, and will not be, a reason for A-ing. Some puzzle cases, such as the one that figures in the toxin puzzle, suggest that there can be such reasons for intending, but these cases have special features that cloud the issue. This paper describes cases that more clearly favour the view that we can have practical reasons of this sort. Several objections to this view (...)
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  15. Randolph Clarke (2007). Commanding Intentions and Prize-Winning Decisions. Philosophical Studies 133 (3):391 - 409.
    It is widely held that any justifying reason for making a decision must also be a justifying reason for doing what one thereby decides to do. Desires to win decision prizes, such as the one that figures in Kavka’s toxin puzzle, might be thought to be exceptions to this principle, but the principle has been defended in the face of such examples. Similarly, it has been argued that a command to intend cannot give one a justifying reason to intend as (...)
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  16. Randolph Clarke (1998). Review: Thomas Pink's The Psychology of Freedom (1996 CUP). [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 107 (4):634-637.
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  17. Garrett Cullity (2008). Decisions, Reasons, and Rationality. Ethics 119 (1):57-95.
  18. James Franklin, Mark Burgman, Scott Sisson & J. K. Martin (2008). Evaluating Extreme Risks in Invasion Ecology: Learning From Banking Compliance. Diversity and Distributions 14:581-591.
    methods that have shown promise for improving extreme risk analysis, particularly for assessing the risks of invasive pests and pathogens associated with international trade. We describe the legally inspired regulatory regime for banks, where these methods have been brought to bear on extreme ‘operational risks’. We argue that an ‘advocacy model’ similar to that used in the Basel II compliance regime for bank operational risks and to a lesser extent in biosecurity import risk analyses is ideal for permitting the diversity (...)
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  19. Gerd Gigerenzer & Thomas Sturm (2012). How (Far) Can Rationality Be Naturalized? Synthese 187 (1):243-268.
    The paper shows why and how an empirical study of fast-and-frugal heuristics can provide norms of good reasoning, and thus how (and how far) rationality can be naturalized. We explain the heuristics that humans often rely on in solving problems, for example, choosing investment strategies or apartments, placing bets in sports, or making library searches. We then show that heuristics can lead to judgments that are as accurate as or even more accurate than strategies that use more information and computation, (...)
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  20. Richard Holton, Inverse Akrasia and Weakness of Will.
    The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment shift -- to (...)
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  21. Richard Holton (2006). The Act of Choice. Philosophers' Imprint 6 (3):1-15.
    Choice is one of the central elements in the experience of free will, but it has not received a good account from either compatibilists or libertarians. This paper develops an account of choice based around three features: (i) choice is an action; (ii) choice is not determined by one's prior beliefs and desires; (iii) once the question of what to do has arisen, choice is typically both necessary and sufficient for moving to action. These features might appear to support a (...)
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  22. Andreas Kalyvas (2004). From the Act to the Decision: Hannah Arendt and the Question of Decisionism. Political Theory 32 (3):320-346.
    There is much disagreement among many commentators of Hannah Arendt's work about whether her contributions to politics and philosophy contain a clandestine version of decisionism or, by contrast, represent an explicit attempt to break away from the elements of voluntarism, arbitrariness, and irrationality, which are considered to be inherent to any theory of the decision. Despite the many disagreements that set apart these two interpretations of Arendt, however, there is a common presupposition that both share. They are in agreement concerning (...)
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  23. Pim Klaassen, Erik Rietveld & Julien Topal (2010). Inviting Complementary Perspectives on Situated Normativity in Everyday Life. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (1):53-73.
    In everyday life, situations in which we act adequately yet entirely without deliberation are ubiquitous. We use the term “situated normativity” for the normative aspect of embodied cognition in skillful action. Wittgenstein’s notion of “directed discontent” refers to a context-sensitive reaction of appreciation in skillful action. Extending this notion from the domain of expertise to that of adequate everyday action, we examine phenomenologically the question of what happens when skilled individuals act correctly with instinctive ease. This question invites exploratory contributions (...)
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  24. Niko Kolodny (2008). The Myth of Practical Consistency. European Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):366-402.
    Niko Kolodny It is often said that there is a special class of norms, ‘rational requirements’, that demand that our attitudes be related one another in certain ways, whatever else may be the case.1 In recent work, a special class of these rational requirements has attracted particular attention: what I will call ‘requirements of formal coherence as such’, which require just that our attitudes be formally coherent.2 For example, we are rationally required, if we believe something, to believe what it (...)
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  25. Stefan Linquist & Jordan Bartol (2013). Two Myths About Somatic Markers. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):455-484.
    Research on patients with damage to ventromedial frontal cortices suggests a key role for emotions in practical decision making. This field of investigation is often associated with Antonio Damasio’s Somatic Marker Hypothesis—a putative account of the mechanism through which autonomic tags guide decision making in typical individuals. Here we discuss two questionable assumptions—or ‘myths’—surrounding the direction and interpretation of this research. First, it is often assumed that there is a single somatic marker hypothesis. As others have noted, however, Damasio’s ‘hypothesis’ (...)
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  26. Duncan MacIntosh (2010). Intransitive Preferences, Vagueness, and the Structure of Procrastination. In Chrisoula Andreou & Mark D. White (eds.), The Thief of Time. Oxford University Press.
    Chrisoula Andreou says procrastination qua imprudent delay is modeled by Warren Quinn’s self-torturer, who supposedly has intransitive preferences that rank each indulgence in something that delays his global goals over working toward those goals and who finds it vague where best to stop indulging. His pair-wise choices to indulge result in his failing the goals, which he then regrets. This chapter argues, contra the money-pump argument, that it is not irrational to have or choose from intransitive preferences; so the agent’s (...)
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  27. Duncan MacIntosh (2003). Prudence and the Temporal Structure of Practical Reasons. In Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford. 230--250.
    I reject three theories of practical reason according to which a rational agent's ultimate reasons for acting must be unchanging: that one is rationally obliged in each choice (1) to be prudent--to advance all the desires one foresees ever having (the self-interest theory), rather than just those one has at the time of choice, or (2) to cause states of affairs that are good by some timeless, impersonal measure (Thomas Nagel), or (3) to obey permanent, universalizable deontic principles (Kant). Whether (...)
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  28. Duncan MacIntosh (1991). Retaliation Rationalized: Gauthier's Solution to the Deterrence Dilemma. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):9-32.
    Gauthier claims: (1) a non-maximizing action is rational if it maximized to intend it. If one intended to retaliate in order to deter an attack, (2) retaliation is rational, for it maximized to intend it. I argue that even on sympathetic theories of intentions, actions and choices, (1) is incoherent. But I defend (2) by arguing that an action is rational if it maximizes on preferences it maximized to adopt given one's antecedent preferences. (2) is true because it maximized to (...)
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  29. Duncan MacIntosh (1988). Libertarian Agency and Rational Morality: Action-Theoretic Objections to Gauthier's Dispositional Soution of the Compliance Problem. Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):499-525.
    David Gauthier thinks agents facing a prisoner's dilemma ('pd') should find it rational to dispose themselves to co-operate with those inclined to reciprocate (i.e., to acquire a constrained maximizer--'cm'--disposition), and to co-operate with other 'cmers'. Richmond Campbell argues that since dominance reasoning shows it remains to the agent's advantage to defect, his co-operation is only rational if cm "determines" him to co-operate, forcing him not to cheat. I argue that if cm "forces" the agent to co-operate, he is not acting (...)
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  30. Kate Manne & David Sobel (2014). Disagreeing About How to Disagree. Philosophical Studies 168 (3):823-34.
    David Enoch, in Taking Morality Seriously, argues for a broad normative asymmetry between how we should behave when disagreeing about facts and how we should behave when disagreeing due to differing preferences. Enoch claims that moral disputes have the earmarks of a factual dispute rather than a preference dispute and that this makes more plausible a realist understanding of morality. We try to clarify what such claims would have to look like to be compelling and we resist his main conclusions.
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  31. Alfred R. Mele (1995). Effective Deliberation About What to Intend: Or Striking It Rich in a Toxin-Free Environment. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 79 (1):85 - 93.
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  32. Alfred R. Mele (1992). Intentions, Reasons, and Beliefs: Morals of the Toxin Puzzle. Philosophical Studies 68 (2):171 - 194.
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  33. Alfred R. Mele (1981). Choice and Virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics. Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (4):405-423.
    Commentators on the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) have long been laboring under the influence of a serious misunderstanding of one of the key terms in Aristotle's moral philosophy and theory of action. This term is prohairesis (choice), the importance of which is indicated by Aristotle's assertions that choice is the proximate efficient cause of action (NE 6. 1139a31--32) and that in which "the essential elements of virtue and character" lie (NE 8. x 163a2'~-23). The accepted view is that Aristotle employs two (...)
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  34. Joe Mintoff (2002). How Can Intentions Make Actions Rational? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):331 - 354.
    Rational agents, it seems, are capable of adopting intentions which make actions rational, which they would otherwise have reason not to do. This paper considers, and rejects, two explanations of this: Constraint Accounts, claiming that adopting such intentions renders one unable to act or to will otherwise; and Indirection accounts, claiming that doing so makes the intended action preferred to its alternatives. I argue that some such explanations are inconsistent with the claim intentions are conduct-controlling pro-attitudes, and others with the (...)
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  35. Joe Mintoff (1999). Are Decisions Motive-Perpetuating? Analysis 59 (4):266–275.
    How should we understand the relation between decision-making and motivation? Thomas Pink has recently argued (Pink 1996) that decisions perpetuate pre-existing motives, and that whatever motivated the formation of a decision should, after that decision is taken, also motivate the action. In this article I argue that this view has certain problems, and that these problems can be solved if we assume instead that decisions are motive-generating.
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  36. Joe Mintoff (1999). Decision-Making and the Backward Induction Argument. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (1):64–77.
    The traditional form of the backward induction argument, which concludes that two initially rational agents would always defect, relies on the assumption that they believe they will be rational in later rounds. Philip Pettit and Robert Sugden have argued, however, that this assumption is unjustified. The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct the argument without using this assumption. The formulation offered concludes that two initially rational agents would decide to always defect, and relies only on the weaker assumption that (...)
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  37. Joe Mintoff (1997). Rational Cooperation, Intention, and Reconsideration. Ethics 107 (4):612-643.
    In their attempt to provide a reason to be moral, contractarians such as David Gauthier are concerned with situations allowing a group of agents the chance of mutual benefit, so long as at least some of them are prepared to constrain their maximising behaviour. But what justifies this constraint? Gauthier argues that it could be rational (because maximising) to intend to constrain one's behaviour, and in certain circumstances to act on this intention. The purpose of this paper is to examine (...)
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  38. Phillip Pettit (2010). Deliberation and Decision. In Constantine Sandis & Timothy O'Connor (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Action. Blackwell.
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  39. Thomas Pink (1998). Reply to Goetz. Mind 107 (425):215-218.
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  40. Thomas Pink (1996). The Psychology of Freedom. Cambridge University Press.
    This book presents a new theory of the will - of our capacity for decision making. The book argues that taking a decision to act is something we do, and do freely - as much an action as the actions which our decisions explain - and that our freedom of action depends on this capacity for free decision-making. But decision-making is no ordinary action. Decisions to act also have a special executive function, that of ensuring the rationality of the further (...)
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  41. Lubomira Radoilska (2012). Autonomy and Ulysses Arrangements. In , Autonomy and Mental Disorder. Oxford University Press. 252-280.
    In this chapter, I articulate the structure of a general concept of autonomy and then reply to possible objections with reference to Ulysses arrangements in psychiatry. The line of argument is as follows. Firstly, I examine three alternative conceptions of autonomy: value-neutral, value-laden, and relational. Secondly, I identify two paradigm cases of autonomy and offer a sketch of its concept as opposed to the closely related freedom of action and intentional agency. Finally, I explain away the autonomy paradox, to which (...)
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  42. Hans Rott (2011). Odd Choices: On the Rationality of Some Alleged Anomalies of Decision and Inference. Topoi 30 (1):59-69.
    This paper presents a number of apparent anomalies in rational choice scenarios, and their translation into the logic of everyday reasoning. Three classes of examples that have been discussed in the context of probabilistic choice since the 1960s (by Debreu, Tversky and others) are analyzed in a non-probabilistic setting. It is shown how they can at the same time be regarded as logical problems that concern the drawing of defeasible inferences from a given information base. I argue that initial appearances (...)
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  43. Nishi Shah (2008). How Action Governs Intention. Philosophers' Imprint 8 (5):1-19.
    Why can't deliberation conclude in an intention except by considering whether to perform the intended action? I argue that the answer to this question entails that reasons for intention are determined by reasons for action. Understanding this feature of practical deliberation thus allows us to solve the toxin puzzle.
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  44. Holly Smith (1991). Deciding How to Decide: Is There a Regress Problem? In Michael Bacharach & Susan Hurley (eds.), Essays in the Foundations of Decision Theory. Basil Blackwell, Inc..
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  45. Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.) (2003/2007). Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press ;.
    Sarah Stroud and Christine Tappolet present eleven original essays on weakness of will, a topic straddling the divide between moral philosophy and philosophy of mind, and the subject of much current attention. An international team of established scholars and younger talent provide perspectives on all the key issues in this fascinating debate; the book will be essential reading for anyone working in the area. Issues covered include classical questions, such as the distinction between weakness and compulsion, the connection between evaluative (...)
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  46. David Velleman (1989). Practical Reflection. Princeton University Press.
    “What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?” asks J. David Velleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. He takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our existence and conduct are aided by our efforts to make it intelligible. Reflective reasoning, Velleman argues, constitutes practical reasoning. By applying this conception, Practical Reflection develops philosophical accounts of intention, free will, and the foundation (...)
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  47. Ralph Wedgwood, Utility or Choiceworthiness?
    Suppose that rational choices are to be defined as choices that maximize some sort of expectation of some sort of value. What sort of value should this definition appeal to? According to a familiar neo-Humean view, the answer is ‘Utility’, where utility is defined as a measure of subjective preference. According to a rival neo-Aristotelian view, the answer is ‘Choiceworthiness’, where choiceworthiness is an irreducibly normative notion – the notion of an action that is good in a certain way. This (...)
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