On the Rationalist Solution to Gregory Kavka's Toxin Puzzle

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (2):267-289 (2009)
Gregory Kavka's 'Toxin Puzzle' suggests that I cannot intend to perform a counter-preferential action A even if I have a strong self-interested reason to form this intention. The 'Rationalist Solution,' however, suggests that I can form this intention. For even though it is counter-preferential, A-ing is actually rational given that the intention behind it is rational. Two arguments are offered for this proposition that the rationality of the intention to A transfers to A-ing itself: the 'Self-Promise Argument' and David Gauthier's 'Rational Self-Interest Argument.' But both arguments – and therefore the Rationalist Solution – fail. The Self-Promise Argument fails because my intention to A does not constitute a promise to myself that I am obligated to honor. And Gauthier's Rational Self-Interest Argument fails to rule out the possibility of rational irrationality.
Keywords toxin puzzle  intention  action  Gauthier  course of action  rationality  rational irrationality  self-interest  self-promise  Kavka
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0114.2009.01340.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Ken Levy, On the Rationalist Solution to Gregory Kavka's Toxin Puzzle
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Michael Bratman (1987/1999). Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Center for the Study of Language and Information.
Pamela Hieronymi (2005). The Wrong Kind of Reason. Journal of Philosophy 102 (9):437 - 457.

View all 34 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Jens David Ohlin (2015). The One or the Many. Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (2):285-299.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

101 ( #30,762 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

12 ( #56,985 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.