I argue that akrasia is not always significantly irrational. To be more precise, I argue that an agent is sometimes more rational for being akratic then she would have been for being enkratic or strong-willed.
This paper inquires into the conceptual nature of self-deception. I shall afford a theory which links SD to wishful thinking. First I present two rival models for the analysis of SD, and suggest reasons why the interpersonal model is flawed. It is necessary for supporters of this model to work out a strategy that avoids the ascription of inconsistency to the self-deceiver in order to fulfill the requirements of the charity principle. Some objections to the compartmentalization strategy are put forward, (...) and a motivational theory is advanced. This theory diverges from Mele (1997)'s account of SD in that it (i) establishes as a necessary condition for SD the existence of a causal link between a desire and a belief unacknowledged by the self-deceived subject, who is unaware also of the counterevidential nature of his belief (the 'focused inferential blindness' thesis), (ii) allows only 'weak SD' cases and offers methodological reasons against the seemingly intentional and dissociative nature of SD and (iii) stresses the deception-SD asymmetry. /// El presente artículo intenta investigar la naturaleza conceptual del autoengaño. Presentaré dos modelos rivales de análisis y ofreceré razones contra la teoría interpersonal frente a la motivacional, alegando las dificultades que comporta seguir alguna de sus estrategias de compartimentación para evitar la atribución de inconsistencia simple al sujeto autoengañado. Defenderé una teoría que vincula el autoengaño con la creencia desiderativa. Se trata de una teoría motivacional que difiere de la de Mele (1997) en que (i) establece como condición necesaria para el autoengaño que se dé una relación causal entre el deseo y la creencia pertinentes, relación cuya existencia desconoce el sujeto, que ignora también el grado en que su creencia es incompatible con los datos empíricamente disponibles (tesis de la ceguera inferencial focalizada), (ii) acepta sólo casos de autoengaño débil y ofrece razones metodológicas contra la supuesta naturaleza intencional y disociativa del autoengaño y (iii) subraya la asimetría autoengaño/engaño. (shrink)
In this paper my purpose is to examine whether the case of inconsistent believers can offer a reason to object to theories of belief ascription that rely on a rationality constraint. I shall first illustrate how the possibility of inconsistent believers might be a challenge for the rationality constraint and then assess Davidson's influential reply to that challenge.
Most of us are “time-biased” in preferring pains to be past rather than future and pleasures to be future rather than past. However, it turns out that if you are risk averse and time-biased, then you can be turned into a “pain pump”—in order to insure yourself against misfortune, you will take a series of pills which leaves you with more pain and better off in no respect. Since this vulnerability seems rationally impermissible, while time-bias and risk aversion seem rationally (...) permissible, we are left with a puzzle. (shrink)
The paper contrasts two ways of understanding the apparently strange assertions of mad persons, finds them both problematic, and proposes an alternative. The first approach, exemplified by R.D. Laing, is to suppose that the beliefs of the mad person are ordinary but expressed in terms that make them appear irrational. The other approach, advocated by Silvano Arieti, is to take the words at face value but to attribute to the mad person a kind of deviant logic. I suggest, on the (...) basis of a Davidsonian approach, that the bizarre utterances of the mad simply cannot be understood adequately; they are, precisely, points at which accomodations of intepretation give out. This is what makes them symptoms of madness. (shrink)
There are at least three basic phenomena that philosophers traditionally classify as paradigm cases of irrationality. In the first two cases, wishful thinking and self-deception, a person wants something to be true and therefore ignores certain relevant facts about the situation, making it appear to herself that it is, in fact, true. The third case, weakness of will, involves a person undertaking a certain action, despite taking herself to have an all-things-considered better reason not to do so. While I think (...) that Stephen Colbert's notion of "truthiness" might be able to fit the mold of each of these three kinds of irrationality, it applies most directly to cases of wishful thinking and self-deception — and it’s these two types of irrationality that I discuss extensively in this paper. As we will see, there are some troubling philosophical problems that arise regarding phenomena like self-deception. But we can use the concept of truthiness to show how these “paradoxes of irrationality” may be resolved without denying the fundamental irrationality of truthiness itself. (shrink)
I look for explanations for the phenomenon of widespread, strong, and persistent disagreements about political issues. The best explanation is provided by the hypothesis that most people are irrational about politics and not, for example, that political issues are particularly difficult or that we lack sufficient evidence for resolving them. I discuss how this irrationality works and why people are especially irrational about politics.
The philosophical study of irrationality can yield interesting insights into the human mind. One provocative issue is self-defeating behaviours, i.e. behaviours that result in failure to achieve ones apparent goals and ambitions. In this paper I consider a self-defeating behaviour called choking under pressure, explain why it should be considered irrational, and how it is best understood with reference to skills. Then I describe how choking can be explained without appeal to a purely Freudian subconscious or sub-agents view of mind. (...) Finally, I will recommend an alternative way to understand self-defeating behaviour which comes from a synthesis of Peter Strawson's explanation of self-reactive attitudes, Mark Johnston's notion of mental tropisms, and revised Freudian descriptions of the causes of self-defeating behaviour. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that many types of attitudinal incoherence are irrational, but there is controversy about why they are. Some think incoherence is irrational because it violates certain wide-scope conditional requirements, others (‘narrow-scopers’) that it violates narrow-scope conditional requirements. In his paper ‘The Scope of Rational Requirements’, John Brunero has offered a putative counter-example to narrow-scope views. But a narrow-scoper should reject a crucial assumption which Brunero makes, namely, the claim that we always violate conditional narrow-scope requirements when we (...) do not comply with them. I show how Brunero's objection can be met by denying this claim, and I provide independent arguments in favour of denying it. (shrink)
Can we learn to create a better world? Yes, if we first create traditions and institutions of learning rationally devoted to that end. At present universities all over the world are dominated by the idea that the basic aim of academic inquiry is to acquire knowledge. Such a conception of inquiry, judged from the standpoint of helping us learn wisdom and civilization, is grotesquely and damagingly irrational. We need to change our approach to academic enterprise if we are to create (...) a kind of inquiry rationally devoted to helping us become more civilized. (shrink)
Can the existence of motivationally biased beliefs plausibly be explained without appealing to actions that are aimed at producing or protecting these beliefs? Drawing upon some recent work on everyday hypothesis testing, I argue for an affirmative answer. Some theorists have been too quick to insist that motivated belief must involve, or typically does involve, our trying to bring it about that we acquire or retain the belief, or our trying to make it easier for ourselves to believe a preferred (...) proposition—and too quick to conclude that such exercises of agency are involved in specific instances of the phenomenon. There are alternative ways to accommodate the data, and it is far from clear that the “agency view” accommodates them better. (shrink)
In the standard money pump, an agent with cyclical preferences can avoid exploitation if he shows foresight and solves his sequential decision problem using backward induction (BI). This way out is foreclosed in a modified money pump, which has been presented in Rabinowicz (2000). There, BI will lead the agent to behave in a self-defeating way. The present paper describes another sequential decision problem of this kind, the Centipede for an Intransitive Preferrer, which in some respects is even more striking (...) than the modified pump. In the new problem, the BI reasoning that implies self-defeating behavior does not rest on the controversial robustness assumption concerning beliefs in one's future rationality. This strengthens the claim that foresight cannot save the intransitive preferrer from a self-defeating course of action. (shrink)
In this paper I present an original and relatively conciliatory solution to one of the central contemporary debates in the theory of rationality, the debate about the proper formulation of rational requirements. I begin by offering my own version of the “symmetry problem” for wide scope rational requirements, and I show how this problem necessitates the introduction of a normative concept other than the traditional notions of reason and requirement. I then sketch a theory of rational commitment , showing how (...) this notion solves the symmetry problem as I’ve presented it. I also show that the concept of rational commitment is one we already appeal to in common sense discourse, and that it is necessary for vindicating comparative judgments of rationality. (shrink)
The author raises the question why Polish philosophy (by which he means Polish analytical philosophy, or the philosophy of the Lvov-Warsaw School) differs so much from what is known as 'Continental philosophy'. He identifies and analyses the following factors which have influenced philosophical developments in Poland: socialism, the connection between philosophy and mathematics, the influence of Austrian philosophy, the peculiar role of K. Twardowski, and Catholicism. The article ends with an appeal for not tolerating irrationalism and relativism in philosophy.
The aim of this chapter is to understand more precisely what kind of irrationality involved in procrastination. The chapter argues that in order to understand the irrationality of procrastination one needs to understand the possibility and the nature of what I call “top-down independent” policies and long-term actions. A policy or long-term action) is top-down independent if it is possible to act irrationally relative to the adoption of the policy without ever engaging in a momentary action that is per se (...) irrational. involved in procrastination one needs to It argues that procrastination is one of the corresponding vices of an overlooked virtue; namely, “practical judgment.” On this account, procrastination turns out to be a failure of instrumental rationality that can be so characterized without assuming the correctness of any further norms of practical rationality. Thus this account of procrastination also constitutes an important objection to Christine Korsgaard’s claim that a purely instrumental conception of rationality is incoherent. (shrink)