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In (practical) deliberation we aim to decide what to do by considering reasons to act. Deliberation of this sort raises many questions, including: (i) What is the relationship between deliberation and acting for reasons? For instance, is deliberation necessary for acting for a reason? (ii) To what extent is it possible for us to take into account things other than reasons for and against doing A in deliberating about whether to A? What explains any such restriction? (iii) What kind of freedom, if any, is presupposed in deliberation? (iv) What is the relationship between rational deliberation and rational action? For instance, does rational deliberation which concludes in a decision to A ensure that it is rational to A? (v) What kinds of factors make for rational deliberation? Is deliberation about whether to A rational only insofar as it responds to reasons for and against A-ing? Or do other factors – for instance, about the benefits of being disposed to deliberate in certain ways – also bear on the rationality of deliberation? Some philosophers have also discussed the possibility of doxastic deliberation – deliberation about what to believe. Some philosophers have argued that features of doxastic deliberation support the view that belief is essentially normative.

Key works For a very helpful recent discussion of (i), see Arpaly & Schroeder 2012. For discussion of (ii) see e.g. Hieronymi 2006Kavka 1983, and Shah 2008. Much of the literature on (iv) and (v) takes off from David Gauthier's work, especially Gauthier 1986Morris & Ripstein 2001 is a very useful collection of essays on Gauthier's work. Much of the recent debate about doxastic deliberation begins with Shah 2003.
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  1. Chrisoula Andreou (2014). Temptation, Resolutions, and Regret. Inquiry 57 (3):275-292.
  2. 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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  3. Chrisoula Andreou (2006). Standards, Advice, and Practical Reason. Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (1):57-67.
    Is there a mode of sincere advice in which the standards of the adviser are put aside in favor of the standards of the advisee? I consider two sorts of cases that appear to be such that the adviser is evaluating things from within the advisee’s system of standards even though this system conflicts with her own; and I argue that these cases are best interpreted in ways that dissolve this appearance. I then argue that the nature of sincere advice (...)
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  4. Chrisoula Andreou (2006). Temptation and Deliberation. Philosophical Studies 131 (3):583 - 606.
    There is a great deal of plausibility to the standard view that if one is rational and it is clear at the time of action that a certain move, say M1, would serve one’s concerns better than any other available move, then one will, as a rational agent, opt for move M1. Still, this view concerning rationality has been challenged at least in part because it seems to conflict with our considered judgments about what it is rational to do in (...)
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  5. Carla Bagnoli (2007). The Authority of Reflection. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (1):43-52.
    This paper examines Moran’s argument for the special authority of the first-person, which revolves around the Self/Other asymmetry and grounds dichotomies such as the practical vs. theoretical, activity vs. passivity, and justificatory vs. explanatory reasons. These dichotomies qualify the self-reflective person as an agent, interested in justifying her actions from a deliberative stance. The Other is pictured as a spectator interested in explaining action from a theoretical stance. The self-reflective knower has authority over her own mental states, while the Spectator (...)
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  6. David Barnett (2012). Future Conditionals and DeRose's Thesis. Mind 121 (482):407-442.
    In deciding whether to read this paper, it might seem reasonable for you to base your decision on your confidence (i) that, if you read this paper, you will become a better person. It might also seem reasonable for you to base your decision on your confidence (ii) that, if you were to read this paper, you would become a better person. Is there a difference between (i) and (ii)? If so, are you rationally required to base your decision on (...)
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  7. Simon Blackburn (1995). Practical Tortoise Raising. Mind 104 (416):695-711.
    In this paper I am not so much concerned with movements of the mind, as movements of the will. But my question bears a similarity to that of the tortoise. I want to ask whether the will is under the control of fact and reason, combined. I shall try to show that there is always something else, something that is not under the control of fact and reason, which has to be given as a brute extra, if deliberation is ever (...)
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  8. Lisa Bortolotti (2009). The Epistemic Benefits of Reason Giving. Theory and Psychology 19 (5):1-22.
    There is an apparent tension in current accounts of the relationship between reason giving and self knowledge. On the one hand, philosophers like Richard Moran (2001) claim that deliberation and justification can give rise to first-person authority over the attitudes that subjects form or defend on the basis of what they take to be their best reasons. On the other hand, the psychological evidence on the introspection effects and the literature on elusive reasons suggest that engaging in explicit deliberation or (...)
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  9. Michael Bratman (2007). Anchors for Deliberation. In Christoph Lumer & Sandro Nannini (eds.), Intentionality, deliberation and autonomy: the action-theoretic basis of practical philosophy. Ashgate Publishing.
    This chapter sketches a model of deliberation that is anchored in plan-like commitments of the agent, commitments that constitute a form of valuing. These anchors need not be inescapable, they can sensibly vary from person to person, they can stand in complex relations to judgments about the good, and they play basic roles in the coss-temporal organization of practical thought and action. And deliberation so understood is, I conjecture, central to autonomy and self-government. The model sketched here is located in (...)
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  10. Michael E. Bratman (2014). Temptation and the Agent's Standpoint. Inquiry 57 (3):293-310.
    Suppose you resolve now to resist an expected temptation later while knowing that once the temptation arrives your preference or evaluative assessment will shift in favor of that temptation. Are there defensible norms of rational planning agency that support sticking with your prior intention in the face of such a shift at the time of temptation and in the absence of relevant new information? This article defends the idea that it might be rational to stick with your prior intention in (...)
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  11. Michael E. Bratman (2009). Intention, Practical Rationality, and Self‐Governance. Ethics 119 (3):411-443.
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  12. Michael E. Bratman (2000). Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency. Philosophical Review 109 (1):35-61.
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  13. Michael E. Bratman (1997). Responsibility and Planning. Journal of Ethics 1 (1):27-43.
    We are planning agents and we are, or so we suppose, responsible agents. How are these two distinctive aspects of our agency related? In his "Freedom and Resentment" Peter Strawson understands responsible agency in terms of "reactive attitudes" like resentment and gratitude, attitudes which are normally embedded in "ordinary inter-personal relationships." I draw on Strawson''s account to sketch an answer to my question about responsibility and planning. First, the fact that an action is plan-embedded can influence the agent''s degree of (...)
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  14. 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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  15. Michael E. Bratman (1992). Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context. Mind 101 (401):1-16.
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  16. John Broome (2006). Reasoning with Preferences? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59 (59):183-208.
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  17. Erik Carlson (2002). Deliberation, Foreknowledge, and Morality as a Guide to Action. Erkenntnis 57 (1):71-89.
    In Section 1, I rehearse some arguments for the claim that morality should be ``action-guiding'', and try to state the conditions under which a moral theory is in fact action-guiding. I conclude that only agents who are cognitively and conatively ``ideal'' are in general able to use a moral theory as a guide to action. In Sections 2 and 3, I discuss whether moral ``actualism'' implies that morality cannot be action-guiding even for ideal agents. If actualism is true, an ideal (...)
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  18. David K. Chan (2010). Reasoning Without Comparing. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):153-164.
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  19. 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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  20. Ruth Chang (2001). Two Conceptions of Reasons for Action. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (2):447–453.
  21. Randolph Clarke (2013). Abilities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):451-458.
    For a symposium on Dana Nelkin's Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility.
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  22. E. J. Coffman, Omniprescience and Serious Deliberation.
    Let’s say that you are omniprescient iff you always believe—occurrently and with maximal confidence—all and only truths, including ones about the future. Several philosophers have argued that an omniprescient being couldn’t engage in certain kinds of activity.[1] In what follows, I present and assess the most promising such argument I know of—what I’ll call the Serious Deliberation Argument (SDA). It concludes that omniprescience rules out serious deliberation—i.e., trying to choose between incompatible courses of action once you know that none is (...)
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  23. E. J. Coffman & Ted A. Warfield (2005). Deliberation and Metaphysical Freedom. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):25-44.
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  24. Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2010). Rational Capacities, Resolve, and Weakness of Will. Mind 119 (476):907 - 932.
    In this paper we present an account of practical rationality and weakness of will in terms of rational capacities. We show how our account rectifies various shortcomings in Michael Smith's related theory. In particular, our account is capable of accommodating cases of weak-willed behaviour that are not `akratic', or otherwise contrary to the agent's better judgement. Our account differs from Smith's primarily by incorporating resolve: a third rational capacity for resolute maintenance of one's intentions. We discuss further two ways to (...)
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  25. Oisín Deery, Matthew S. Bedke & Shaun Nichols (2013). Phenomenal Abilities: Incompatibilism and the Experience of Agency. In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. 126–50.
    Incompatibilists often claim that we experience our agency as incompatible with determinism, while compatibilists challenge this claim. We report a series of experiments that focus on whether the experience of having an ability to do otherwise is taken to be at odds with determinism. We found that participants in our studies described their experience as incompatibilist whether the decision was (i) present-focused or retrospective, (ii) imagined or actual, (iii) morally salient or morally neutral. The only case in which participants did (...)
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  26. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). A Reason-Based Theory of Rational Choice. Noûs 47 (1):104-134.
    There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a (...)
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  27. Daniel Dohrn, DeRose on the Conditionals of Deliberation.
    I take issue with two claims of DeRose: Conditionals of deliberation must not depend on backtracking grounds. ‘Were’ed-up conditionals coincide with future-directed indicative conditionals; the only difference in their meaning is that they must not depend on backtracking grounds. I use Egan’s counterexamples to causal decision theory to contest the first and an example of backtracking reasoning by David Lewis to contest the second claim. I tentatively outline a rivaling account of ‘were’ed-up conditionals which combines features of the standard analysis (...)
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  28. David Enoch (2003). An Argument for Robust Metanormative Realism. Dissertation, New York University
    In this essay, I defend a view I call “Robust Realism” about normativity. According to this view, there are irreducibly, perfectly objective, normative truths, that when successful in our normative inquiries we discover rather than create or construct. My argument in support of Robust Realism is modeled after arguments from explanatory indispensability common in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mathematics. I argue that irreducibly normative truths, though not explanatorily indispensable, are nevertheless deliberatively indispensable, and that this kind (...)
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  29. Julian Fink (2012). The Function of Normative Process-Requirements. Dialectica 66 (1):115-136.
    This paper discusses whether rationality, morality or prudence impose process-requirements upon us. It has been argued that process-requirements fulfil two essential functions within a system of rational, moral or prudential requirements. These functions are considered to prove the existence of process-requirements. First, process-requirements are deemed necessary to ensure that rationality, morality or prudence can guide our deliberations and actions. Second, their existence is regarded as essential for the correctness of our ordinary explanations of why a person possesses a certain degree (...)
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  30. Julian Fink (2010). Asymmetry, Scope, and Rational Consistency. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):109-130.
    Suppose rationality requires you to A if you believe you ought to A. Suppose you believe that you ought to A. How can you satisfy this requirement? One way seems obvious. You can satisfy this requirement by A-ing. But can you also satisfy it by stopping to believe that you ought to A? Recently, it has been argued that this second option is not a genuine way of satisfying the above requirement. Conditional requirements of rationality do not have two ‘symmetric’, (...)
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  31. David Forman (2012). Principled and Unprincipled Maxims. Kant-Studien 103 (3):318-336.
    Kant frequently speaks as if all voluntary actions arise from our maxims as the subjective principles of our practical reason. But, as Michael Albrecht has pointed out, Kant also occasionally speaks as if it is only the rare person of “character” who acts according to principles or maxims. I argue that Kant’s seemingly contradictory claims on this front result from the fact that there are two fundamentally different ways that maxims of action can figure in the deliberation of the agent: (...)
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  32. Allan Hazlett, Belief and Truth, Desire and Goodness.
    There seems to be a special relationship between belief and truth that can be metaphorically expressed by saying that belief “aims” at truth or that belief’s “direction of fit” is “to fit the world.” There is an Aristotelian thesis, according to which the special relationship between belief and truth is the same as the special relationship between desire and goodness. Assuming that belief “aims” at truth, then, desire “aims” at goodness. This contrasts with a Humean thesis, on which, while belief (...)
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  33. Edmund Henden (2006). The Role of All Things Considered Judgements in Practical Deliberation. Philosophical Explorations 9 (3):295 – 308.
    Suppose an agent has made a judgement of the form, 'all things considered, it would be better for me to do a rather than b (or any range of alternatives to doing a)' where a and b stand for particular actions. If she does not act upon her judgement in these circumstances would that be a failure of rationality on her part? In this paper I consider two different interpretations of all things considered judgements which give different answers to this (...)
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  34. Ted Honderich, Tomis Kapitan: Deliberation and the Presumption of Open Alternatives.
    What is the point of asking yourself what to do and then thinking hard about it if all the thinking is settled in advance? What is the point of trying to figure out how to run your life if determinism governs your every reflection? Do we not have to suppose that determinism is false if we are to take our own deliberations seriously? The question has long been taken to bedevil the doctrine of determinism. It has been supposed that determinists (...)
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  35. Tomis Kapitan (1986). Deliberation and the Presumption of Open Alternatives. Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (April):230-51.
    By deliberation we understand practical reasoning with an end in view of choosing some course of action. Integral to it is the agent's sense of alternative possibilities, that is, of two or more courses of action he presumes are open for him to undertake or not. Such acts may not actually be open in the sense that the deliberator would do them were he to so intend, but it is evident that he assumes each to be so. One deliberates only (...)
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  36. Benjamin Kiesewetter (forthcoming). Instrumental Normativity: In Defense of the Transmission Principle. Ethics.
    If you ought to perform a certain act, and some other action is a necessary means for you to perform that act, then you ought to perform that other action as well – or so it seems plausible to say. This transmission principle is of both practical and theoretical significance. The aim of this paper is to defend this principle against a number of recent objections, which (as I show) are all based on core assumptions of the view called actualism. (...)
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  37. Benjamin Kiesewetter (2012). A Dilemma for Parfit's Conception of Normativity. Analysis 72 (3):466-474.
    In his discussion of normative concepts in the first part of On What Matters ( 2011 , On What Matters , vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press), Parfit holds that apart from the ‘ought’ of decisive reason, there are other senses of ‘ought’ which do not imply any reasons. This claim poses a dilemma for his ‘reason-involving conception’ of normativity: either Parfit has to conclude that non-reason-implying ‘oughts’ are not normative. Or else he is forced to accept that normativity (...)
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  38. Benjamin Kiesewetter (2011). 'Ought' and the Perspective of the Agent. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (3):1-24.
    Objectivists and perspectivists disagree about the question of whether what an agent ought to do depends on the totality of facts or on the agent’s limited epistemic perspective. While objectivism fails to account for normative guidance, perspectivism faces the challenge of explaining phenomena (occurring most notably in advice, but also in first-personal deliberation) in which the use of “ought” is geared to evidence that is better than the evidence currently available to the agent. This paper aims to defend perspectivism by (...)
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  39. Stéphane Lemaire (2012). A Gate-Based Account of Intentions. Dialectica 66 (1):45-67.
    In this paper, I propose a reductive account of intentions which I call a gate-based reductive account. In contrast with other reductive accounts, however, the reductive basis of this account is not limited to desires, beliefs and judgments. I suggest that an intention is a complex state in which a predominant desire toward a plan is not inhibited by a gate mechanism whose function is to assess the comparison of our desires given the stakes at hand. To vindicate this account, (...)
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  40. Jennie Louise (2009). I Won't Do It! Self-Prediction, Moral Obligation and Moral Deliberation. Philosophical Studies 146 (3):327 - 348.
    This paper considers the question of whether predictions of wrongdoing are relevant to our moral obligations. After giving an analysis of ‘won’t’ claims (i.e., claims that an agent won’t Φ), the question is separated into two different issues: firstly, whether predictions of wrongdoing affect our objective moral obligations, and secondly, whether self-prediction of wrongdoing can be legitimately used in moral deliberation. I argue for an affirmative answer to both questions, although there are conditions that must be met for self-prediction to (...)
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  41. Christoph Lumer & Sandro Nannini (2007). Intentionality, Deliberation and Autonomy: The Action-Theoretic Basis of Practical Philosophy. Ashgate Publishing.
    Many important thinkers in the philosophical tradition, like Aristotle or Hume, have used an explicit theory of action as the basis of their respective normative theories of practical rationality and morality. The idea behind this architecture of theories is that action theory can inform us about the origin, bonds, reach and limits of practical reason. The aim of this book is to revive this direct connection between action theory and practical philosophy, in particular to provide systematic action-theoretical underpinnings for the (...)
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  42. Duncan MacIntosh (2013). Assuring, Threatening, a Fully Maximizing Theory of Practical Rationality, and the Practical Duties of Agents. Ethics 123 (4):625-656.
    Theories of practical rationality say when it is rational to form and fulfill intentions to do actions. David Gauthier says the correct theory would be the one our obeying would best advance the aim of rationality, something Humeans take to be the satisfaction of one’s desires. I use this test to evaluate the received theory and Gauthier’s 1984 and 1994 theories. I find problems with the theories and then offer a theory superior by Gauthier’s test and immune to the problems. (...)
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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. Duncan MacIntosh (1992). Preference-Revision and the Paradoxes of Instrumental Rationality. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):503-529.
    To the normal reasons that we think can justify one in preferring something, x (namely, that x has objectively preferable properties, or has properties that one prefers things to have, or that x's obtaining would advance one's preferences), I argue that it can be a justifying reason to prefer x that one's very preferring of x would advance one's preferences. Here, one prefers x not because of the properties of x, but because of the properties of one's having the preference (...)
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  46. 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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  47. 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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  48. Alfred R. Mele (1985). How to Represent Aristotelian Deliberation Syllogistically. New Scholasticism 59 (4):484-492.
  49. Elijah Millgram (ed.) (2001). Varieties of Practical Reasoning. MIT Press.
    This book covers a broad spectrum of positions on practical reasoning—from the nihilist view that there are no legitimate forms of practical inference, and ...
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  50. Elijah Millgram & Paul Thagard (1996). Deliberative Coherence. Synthese 108 (1):63 - 88.
    Choosing the right plan is often choosing the more coherent plan: but what is coherence? We argue that coherence-directed practical inference ought to be represented computationally. To that end, we advance a theory of deliberative coherence, and describe its implementation in a program modelled on Thagard's ECHO. We explain how the theory can be tested and extended, and consider its bearing on instrumentalist accounts of practical rationality.
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