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Rational requirements, as the expression has come to be used, are requirements of coherence – for instance, the requirements to be consistent in your beliefs and in your intentions, and to intend what you take to be the necessary means to the ends you intend. The central questions about such requirements include: (i) how are rational requirements best formulated? For instance, should we accept so-called wide- or narrow-scope formulations of rational requirements (ii) Are there reasons to comply with rational requirements (that is, to be coherent)? If not, in what sense, if any, is rationality normative? (iii) How do rational requirements relate to other kinds of requirements (for instance, requirements of morality or prudence) and other normative notions, such as reasons, ‘ought’, and good reasoning?

Key works Much recent work on this topic takes off from Broome 1999 and Kolodny 2005
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  1. John Broome, Requirements. Hommage à Wlodek; 60 Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz.
    The object of this paper is to explore the intersection of two issues – both of them of considerable interest in their own right. The first concerns the role that feasibility considerations play in constraining normative claims – claims, say, about what we (individually and collectively) ought to do and to be. This issue has particular relevance for the confrontation of moral philosophy with economics (and social science more generally). The second issue concerns whether normative claims are to be understood (...)
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  2. John Broome (2008). Reply to Southwood, Kearns and Star, and Cullity. Ethics 119 (1):96-108.
  3. John Broome (2007). Does Rationality Consist in Responding Correctly to Reasons? Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3):349-374.
    Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. That is: necessarily, if you are rational you respond correctly to your beliefs about reasons.
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  4. John Broome (2007). Wide or Narrow Scope? Mind 116 (462):359-370.
    This paper is a response to ‘Why Be Rational?’ by Niko Kolodny. Kolodny argues that we have no reason to satisfy the requirements of rationality. His argument assumes that these requirements have a logically narrow scope. To see what the question of scope turns on, this comment provides a semantics for ‘requirement’. It shows that requirements of rationality have a wide scope, at least under one sense of ‘requirement’. Consequently Kolodny's conclusion cannot be derived.
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  5. John Broome (2005). Does Rationality Give Us Reasons? Philosophical Issues 15 (1):321–337.
  6. John Broome (2001). Normative Practical Reasoning: John Broome. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75 (1):175–193.
    Practical reasoning is a process of reasoning that concludes in an intention. One example is reasoning from intending an end to intending what you believe is a necessary means: 'I will leave the next buoy to port; in order to do that I must tack; so I'll tack', where the first and third sentences express intentions and the second sentence a belief. This sort of practical reasoning is supported by a valid logical derivation, and therefore seems uncontrovertible. A more contentious (...)
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  7. John Broome (1999). Normative Requirements. Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
    Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...)
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  8. John Brunero (2012). Instrumental Rationality, Symmetry and Scope. Philosophical Studies 157 (1):125-140.
    Instrumental rationality prohibits one from being in the following state: intending to pass a test, not intending to study, and believing one must intend to study if one is to pass. One could escape from this incoherent state in three ways: by intending to study, by not intending to pass, or by giving up one’s instrumental belief. However, not all of these ways of proceeding seem equally rational: giving up one’s instrumental belief seems less rational than giving up an end, (...)
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  9. John Brunero (2010). The Scope of Rational Requirements. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238):28-49.
    Niko Kolodny has argued that some (local) rational requirements are narrow-scope requirements. Against this, I argue here that all (local) rational requirements are wide-scope requirements. I present a new objection to the narrow-scope interpretations of the four specific rational requirements which Kolodny considers. His argument for the narrow-scope interpretations of these four requirements rests on a false assumption, that an attitude which puts in place a narrow-scope rational requirement somewhere thereby puts in place a narrow-scope rational requirement everywhere. My argument (...)
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  10. John Brunero & Niko Kolodny, Instrumental Rationality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  11. David Phiroze Christensen (2004). Putting Logic in its Place: Formal Constraints on Rational Belief. Oxford University Press.
    What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way - either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical consequences of one's beliefs. A less popular picture sees belief as a graded phenomenon.
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  12. Christian Coons & David Faraci (2010). First-Personal Authority and the Normativity of Rationality. Philosophia 38 (4):733-740.
    In “Vindicating the Normativity of Rationality,” Nicholas Southwood proposes that rational requirements are best understood as demands of one’s “first-personal standpoint.” Southwood argues that this view can “explain the normativity or reason-giving force” of rationality by showing that they “are the kinds of thing that are, by their very nature, normative.” We argue that the proposal fails on three counts: First, we explain why demands of one’s first-personal standpoint cannot be both reason-giving and resemble requirements of rationality. Second, the proposal (...)
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  13. Julian Fink (2014). A Constitutive Account of 'Rationality Requires'. Erkenntnis:1-33.
    The requirements of rationality are fundamental in practical and theoretical philosophy. Nonetheless, there exists no correct account of what constitutes rational requirements. This paper attempts to provide a correct constitutive account of ‘rationality requires’. I argue that rational requirements are grounded in ‘necessary explanations of subjective incoherence’, as I shall put it. Rationality requires of you to X if and only if your rational capacities, in conjunction with the fact that you not-X, explain necessarily why you have a non-maximal degree (...)
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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. Patrick Fleming (2008). On a Purported Principle of Practical Reason. Journal of Philosophical Research 33:143-162.
    A number of philosophers are attracted to the Principle of the Priority of Belief (or PPB) in practical matters. PPB has two parts: (1) it is a principle of practical reason to adjust your desires in accordance with your evaluative beliefs and (2) you should not adjust your evaluative beliefs in accordance with your desires. The central claim of this principle is that beliefs rightly govern desires and that desires have no authority over beliefs. This paper advances conceptual and empiricalarguments (...)
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  17. Johan E. Gustafsson (2013). The Irrelevance of the Diachronic Money-Pump Argument for Acyclicity. Journal of Philosophy 110 (8):460–464.
    The money-pump argument is the standard argument for the acyclicity of rational preferences. The argument purports to show that agents with cyclic preferences are in some possible situations forced to act against their preference. In the usual, diachronic version of the money-pump argument, such agents accept a series of trades that leaves them worse off than before. Two stock objections are (i) that one may get the drift and refuse the trades and (ii) that one may adopt a plan to (...)
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  18. Johan E. Gustafsson (2010). A Money-Pump for Acyclic Intransitive Preferences. Dialectica 64 (2):251–257.
    The standard argument for the claim that rational preferences are transitive is the pragmatic money-pump argument. However, a money-pump only exploits agents with cyclic strict preferences. In order to pump agents who violate transitivity but without a cycle of strict preferences, one needs to somehow induce such a cycle. Methods for inducing cycles of strict preferences from non-cyclic violations of transitivity have been proposed in the literature, based either on offering the agent small monetary transaction premiums or on multi-dimensional preferences. (...)
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  19. Johan E. Gustafsson & Nicolas Espinoza (2010). Conflicting Reasons in the Small-Improvement Argument. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):754–763.
    The small-improvement argument is usually considered the most powerful argument against comparability, viz the view that for any two alternatives an agent is rationally required either to prefer one of the alternatives to the other or to be indifferent between them. We argue that while there might be reasons to believe each of the premises in the small-improvement argument, there is a conflict between these reasons. As a result, the reasons do not provide support for believing the conjunction of the (...)
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  20. Brian Hedden (2013). Incoherence Without Exploitability. Noûs 47 (3):482-495.
  21. Brian Hedden (2012). Options and the Subjective Ought. Philosophical Studies 158 (2):343-360.
    Options and the subjective ought Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9880-0 Authors Brian Hedden, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
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  22. Nadeem J. Z. Hussain, The Requirements of Rationality.
    Requirements of rationality, like the following, have recently been the focus of much discussion: (1) Rationality requires of S that, if S intends that e and believes that e will not be so unless S intends that m, then S intends that m. (2) Rationality requires of S that S not both believe p and believe not-p.1 How many requirements there are and how precisely to state them is a matter of controversy, but I will focus on a different kind (...)
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  23. Brian Kim (forthcoming). The Locality and Globality of Instrumental Rationality: The Normative Significance of Preference Reversals. Synthese.
    When we ask a decision maker to express her preferences, it is typically assumed that we are eliciting a pre-existing set of preferences. However, empirical research has suggested that our preferences are often constructed on the fly for the decision problem at hand. This paper explores the ramifications of this empirical research for our understanding of instrumental rationality. First, I argue that these results pose serious challenges for the traditional decision-theoretic view of instrumental rationality, which demands global coherence amongst all (...)
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  24. Niko Kolodny (2009). Reply to Bridges. Mind 118 (470):369-376.
    Bridges (2008) argues that the ‘Transparency Account’ (TA) of Kolodny 2005 has a hidden flaw. The TA does not, after all, account for the fact that (1) in our ordinary, engaged thought and talk about rationality, we believe that, when it would be irrational of one of us to refuse to A, he has, because of this, conclusive reason to A. My reply is that this was the point. For reasons given in Kolodny 2005, (1) is false. The aim (...)
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  25. 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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  26. Niko Kolodny (2008). Why Be Disposed to Be Coherent? Ethics 118 (3):437-463.
    My subject is what I will call the “Myth of Formal Coherence.” In its normative telling, the Myth is that there are “requirements of formal coherence as such,” which demand just that our beliefs and intentions be formally coherent.1 Some examples are.
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  27. Niko Kolodny (2007). How Does Coherence Matter? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):229 - 263.
    Recently, much attention has been paid to ‘rational requirements’ and, especially, to what I call ‘rational requirements of formal coherence as such’. These requirements are satisfied just when our attitudes are formally coherent: for example, when our beliefs do not contradict each other. Nevertheless, these requirements are puzzling. In particular, it is unclear why we should satisfy them. In light of this, I explore the conjecture that there are no requirements of formal coherence. I do so by trying to construct (...)
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  28. Niko Kolodny (2007). State or Process Requirements? Mind 116 (462):371-385.
    rational requirements are narrow scope. The source of our disagreement, I suspect, is that Broome believes that the relevant rational requirements govern states, whereas I believe that they govern processes. If they govern states, then the debate over scope is sterile. The difference between narrow- and wide-scope state requirements is only as important as the difference between not violating a requirement and satisfying one. Broome's observations about conflicting narrow-scope state requirements only corroborate this. Why, then, have we thought that there (...)
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  29. Niko Kolodny (2005). Why Be Rational? Mind 114 (455):509-563.
    Normativity involves two kinds of relation. On the one hand, there is the relation of being a reason for. This is a relation between a fact and an attitude. On the other hand, there are relations specified by requirements of rationality. These are relations among a person's attitudes, viewed in abstraction from the reasons for them. I ask how the normativity of rationality—the sense in which we ‘ought’ to comply with requirements of rationality—is related to the normativity of reasons—the sense (...)
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  30. Barry Lam, A New Argument Against the Instrumental Conception of Epistemic Rationality.
    According to the Instrumental Conception of Epistemic Rationality believing rationally is believing in such a way so as to best satisfy one’s cognitive goals. I provide a novel argument against the Instrumental Conception on the basis of an unnoticed phenomenon I call “rational preemption.” You can now revise your plans and actions rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. However, you cannot now revise your beliefs rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. The ability (...)
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  31. Yair Levy (forthcoming). Normativity and Self-Relations. Philosophical Studies:1-16.
    The paper criticizes two prominent accounts which purport to explain normativity by appealing to some relation that one bears to oneself. Michael Bratman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would fail to govern oneself. And David Velleman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would be less intelligible to oneself. Both Bratman and Velleman argue in quite different ways that rational coherence is normative because it is necessary for the (...)
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  32. Clayton Littlejohn, Stop Making Sense? A Puzzle About Epistemic Rationality.
    In this paper, I discuss a puzzle about epistemic rationality. It seems plausible that it's rational to believe a proposition if you have sufficient evidential support for it. It seems plausible that our first-order and higher-order attitudes ought to match. It seems rather unfortunate that these two claims are in tension with one another. I'll look at three ways of trying to resolve this tension and argue that the best way to do this is to accept the controversial fixed-point thesis (...)
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  33. Clayton Littlejohn (forthcoming). Reasons and Theoretical Rationality. In Oxford Handbook of X and Y.
    A discussion of epistemic reasons and theoretical rationality.
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  34. Clayton Littlejohn (2013). A Note Concerning Justification and Access. Episteme 10 (4):369-386.
    Certain combinations of attitudes are manifestly unreasonable. It is unreasonable to believe that dogs bark, for example, if one concedes that one has no justification to believe this. Why are the irrational combinations irrational? One suggestion is that these are attitudes that a subject cannot have justification to have. If this is right, we can test claims about the structure of propositional justification by relying on our observations about which combinations of attitudes constitute Moorean absurd pairs. In a recent defense (...)
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  35. Errol Lord (2013). The Real Symmetry Problem(s) for Wide-Scope Accounts of Rationality. Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    You are irrational when you are akratic. On this point most agree. Despite this agreement, there is a tremendous amount of disagreement about what the correct explanation of this data is. Narrow-scopers think that the correct explanation is that you are violating a narrow-scope conditional requirement. You lack an intention to x that you are required to have given the fact that you believe you ought to x. Wide-scopers disagree. They think that a conditional you are required to make true (...)
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  36. Errol Lord (2011). Violating Requirements, Exiting From Requirements, and the Scope of Rationality. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):392-399.
    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 (...)
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  37. Christopher J. G. Meacham & Jonathan Weisberg (2011). Representation Theorems and the Foundations of Decision Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):641 - 663.
    Representation theorems are often taken to provide the foundations for decision theory. First, they are taken to characterize degrees of belief and utilities. Second, they are taken to justify two fundamental rules of rationality: that we should have probabilistic degrees of belief and that we should act as expected utility maximizers. We argue that representation theorems cannot serve either of these foundational purposes, and that recent attempts to defend the foundational importance of representation theorems are unsuccessful. As a result, we (...)
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  38. María G. Navarro (forthcoming). Book Review of 'Hermeneutic Rationality' by Maria Luisa Portocarrero, Luis António Umbelino, Andrezej Wiercinski. [REVIEW] LIT Verlag.
  39. T. Parent, Neo-Sellarsian Metaphilosophy.
    Science often conflicts with our everyday experience. For instance, we typically assume the existence of agency, norms, etc.—yet such things are absent from scientific theory. For Sellars, philosophy’s aim is to resolve these discrepancies between the “manifest” and “scientific” images. However, some might protest that philosophers should not “negotiate” ontology with science—the scientific image should instead claim hegemony. I defend the Sellarsian by arguing that we are simply unable to jettison central parts of the “manifest image.” That is so, even (...)
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  40. Douglas W. Portmore (forthcoming). Perform Your Best Option. Journal of Philosophy.
    We ought to perform our best option—that is, the option that we have most reason, all things considered, to perform. This is perhaps the most fundamental and least controversial of all normative principles concerning action. Yet, it is not, I believe, well understood. For even setting aside questions about what our options are and what our reasons are, there are prior questions concerning how best to formulate the principle. In this paper, I address these questions. One of the more interesting (...)
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  41. Douglas W. Portmore (2012). Imperfect Reasons and Rational Options. Noûs 46 (1):24 - 60.
    Agents often face a choice of what to do. And it seems that, in most of these choice situations, the relevant reasons do not require performing some particular act, but instead permit performing any of numerous act alternatives. This is known as the basic belief. Below, I argue that the best explanation for the basic belief is not that the relevant reasons are incommensurable (Raz) or that their justifying strength exceeds the requiring strength of opposing reasons (Gert), but that they (...)
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  42. Andrew Reisner, Anchoring Diachronic Rationality.
    [Please note, this paper has been for the most part superseded by 'Unifying the Requirements of Rationality'] In the last decade, it has become commonplace among people who work on reasons (although not uncontroversially so) to distinguish between normativity and rationality. Work by John Broome, Niko Kolodny, Derek Parfit, and Nicholas Shackel has helped to establish the view that rationality is conceptually distinct from reasons. The distinction allows us to make sense of the questions recently addressed by Broome, Kolodny, Reisner, (...)
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  43. Andrew Reisner (2013). Is the Enkratic Principle a Requirement of Rationality? Organon F 20 (4):436-462.
    In this paper I argue that the enkratic principle in its classic formulation may not be a requirement of rationality. The investigation of whether it is leads to some important methodological insights into the study of rationality. I also consider the possibility that we should consider rational requirements as a subset of a broader category of agential requirements.
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  44. Andrew Reisner (2009). Unifying the Requirements of Rationality. Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):243-260.
    This paper looks at the question of what form the requirements of practical rationality take. One common view is that the requirements of rationality are wide-scope, and another is that they are narrow-scope. I argue that the resolution to the question of wide-scope versus narrow-scope depends to a significant degree on what one expects a theory of rationality to do. In examining these expectations, I consider whether there might be a way to unify requirements of both forms into a single (...)
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  45. Simon Rippon (2014). Were Kant's Hypothetical Imperatives Wide-Scope Oughts? :1-6.
    Were Kant’s hypothetical imperatives wide-scope oughts?. . ???aop.label???. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2014.915576.
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  46. Simon Rippon (2011). In Defense of the Wide-Scope Instrumental Principle. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (2):1-21.
    I make the observation that English sentences such as “You have reason to take the bus or to take the train” do not have the logical form that they superficially appear to have. I find in these sentences a conjunctive use of “or,” as found in sentences like “You can have milk or lemon in your tea,” which gives you a permission to have milk, and a permission to have lemon, though no permission to have both. I argue that a (...)
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  47. Jacob Ross (2010). Sleeping Beauty, Countable Additivity, and Rational Dilemmas. Philosophical Review 119 (4):411 - 447.
    Currently, the most popular views about how to update de se or self-locating beliefs entail the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem.2 Another widely held view is that an agent‘s credences should be countably additive.3 In what follows, I will argue that there is a deep tension between these two positions. For the assumptions that underlie the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem entail a more general principle, which I call the Generalized Thirder Principle, and there are situations (...)
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  48. Jacob Ross (2009). How to Be a Cognitivist About Practical Reason. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:243-281.
  49. David H. Sanford (1992). The Anastylosis of Reason: Fitting Together Stich's Fragments. Inquiry 35 (1):113 – 137.
    Anastylosis is the reconstruction of a monument using the original fragments and filling in the missing parts with an easily distinguishable modern material. This long review of "The Fragmentation of Reason; Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation" (MIT, 1990) by Stephen P Stich reconstructs, while preserving their original shapes, the conceptions of reason, truth, and rationality that Stich attempts to shatter. The review agrees with Stich's Chapter 3 which is itself highly critical of some philosophical views about evolution (...)
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  50. Sam Shpall (2013). Wide and Narrow Scope. Philosophical Studies 163 (3):717-736.
    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 (...)
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