Imperfect Reasons and Rational Options

Noûs 46 (1):24 - 60 (2012)
Abstract
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 are imperfect reasons—reasons that do not support performing any particular act, but instead support choosing any of the numerous alternatives that would each achieve the same worthy end. In the process, I develop and defend a novel theory of objective rationality, arguing that it is superior to its two most notable rivals
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