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Profile: Duncan MacIntosh (Dalhousie University)
  1. Duncan MacIntosh (2014). Sterba's Argument From Non-Question-Beggingness for the Rationality of Morality. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (1):171-189.
    James Sterba describes the egoist as thinking only egoist reasons decide the rationality of choices of action, the altruist, only altruistic reasons, that each in effect begs the question of what reasons there are against the other, and that the only non-question-begging and therefore rationally defensible position in this controversy is the middle-ground position that high-ranking egoistic reasons should trump low ranking-altruistic considerations and vice versa, this position being co-extensive with morality. Therefore it is rationally obligatory choose morally. I object (...)
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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Duncan Macintosh (2007). Reasons and Purposes: Human Rationality and the Teleological Explanation of Action - By G.F. Schueler. Philosophical Books 48 (1):86-88.
  5. Duncan MacIntosh (2007). The Mutual Limitation of Needs as Bases of Moral Entitlements: A Solution to Braybrooke's Problem. In Susan Sherwin & Peter Schotch (eds.), Engaged Philosophy: Essays in Honour of David Braybrooke. University of Toronto Press.
    David Braybrooke argues that meeting people’s needs ought to be the primary goal of social policy. But he then faces the problem of how to deal with the fact that our most pressing needs, needs to be kept alive with resource-draining medical technology, threaten to exhaust our resources for meeting all other needs. I consider several solutions to this problem, eventually suggesting that the need to be kept alive is no different in kind from needs to fulfill various projects, and (...)
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  6. Duncan MacIntosh (2007). Who Owns Me: Me Or My Mother? How To Escape Okin's Problem For Nozick's And Narveson's Theory Of Entitlement. In Malcolm Murray (ed.), Liberty, Games And Contracts: Jan Narveson And The Defense Of Libertarianism. Ashgate.
    Susan Okin read Robert Nozick as taking it to be fundamental to his Libertarianism that people own themselves, and that they can acquire entitlement to other things by making them. But she thinks that, since mothers make people, all people must then be owned by their mothers, a consequence Okin finds absurd. She sees no way for Nozick to make a principled exception to the idea that people own what they make when what they make is people, concluding that Nozick’s (...)
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  7. 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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  8. Duncan MacIntosh (2001). Prudence and the Reasons of Rational Persons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (3):346 – 365.
    Hume said that the reasons that determine the rationality of one's actions are the desires one has when acting: one's actions are rational iff they advance these desires. Thomas Nagel says this entails calling rational, actions absurdly conflicting in aims over time. For one might have reason, in one's current desires, to begin trying to cause states one foresees having reason, in one's foreseen desires, to prevent. Instead, then, real reasons must be timeless, so that current and foreseen reasons cannot (...)
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  9. Duncan MacIntosh (1998). Categorically Rational Preferences and the Structure of Morality. In Peter Danielson (ed.), Modeling Rationality, Morality and Evolution; Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science, Volume 7. Oxford.
    David Gauthier suggested that all genuine moral problems are Prisoners Dilemmas (PDs), and that the morally and rationally required solution to a PD is to co-operate. I say there are four other forms of moral problem, each a different way of agents failing to be in PDs because of the agents’ preferences. This occurs when agents have preferences that are malevolent, self-enslaving, stingy, or bullying. I then analyze preferences as reasons for action, claiming that this means they must not target (...)
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  10. Duncan Macintosh (1994). Could God Have Made the Big Bang? (On Theistic Counterfactuals). Dialogue 33 (01):3-20.
    Quentin Smith argues that if God exists, He had a duty to ensure life's existence; and He couldn't rationally have done so and made a big bang unless a counter-factual like "If God had made a big bang, there would have been life," was true pre-creation. But such counter-factuals are not true pre-creation. I argue that God could have made a big bang without irrationality; and that He could have ensured life without making big bangs non-random. Further, a proper understanding (...)
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  11. Duncan Macintosh (1994). Partial Convergence and Approximate Truth. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (1):153-170.
    Scientific Realists argue that it would be a miracle if scientific theories were getting more predictive without getting closer to the truth; so they must be getting closer to the truth. Van Fraassen, Laudan et al. argue that owing to the underdetermination of theory by data (UDT) for all we know, it is a miracle, a fluke. So we should not believe in even the approximate truth of theories. I argue that there is a test for who is right: suppose (...)
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  12. Duncan Macintosh (1993). Persons and the Satisfaction of Preferences: Problems in the Rational Kinematics of Values. Journal of Philosophy 60 (4):163-180.
    If one can get the targets of one's current wants only by acquiring new wants (as in the Prisoner's Dilemma), is it rational to do so? Arguably not. For this could justify adopting unsatisfiable wants, violating the rational duty to maximize one's utility. Further, why cause a want's target if one will not then want it? And people "are" their wants. So if these change, people will not survive to enjoy their wants' targets. I reply that one rationally need not (...)
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  13. Duncan MacIntosh (1992). Buridan and the Circumstances of Justice (On the Implications of the Rational Unsolvability of Certain Co-Ordination Problems). Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):150-173.
    Gauthier and Hobbes reduce Prisoners Dilemmas to co-ordination problems (CPs). Many think rational, face-to-face agents can solve any CP by agreed fiat. But though an agent can rationally use a symmetry-breaking technique (ST) to decide between equal options, groups cannot unless their members' STs luckily converge. Failing this, the CP is escapable only by one agent's non-rational stubbornness, or by the group's "conquest" by an outside force. Implications: one's strategic rationality is group-relative; there are some optimums groups in principle cannot (...)
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  14. 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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  15. Duncan Macintosh (1991). Co-Operative Solutions to the Prisoner's Dilemma. Philosophical Studies 64 (3):309 - 321.
    For the tradition, an action is rational if maximizing; for Gauthier, if expressive of a disposition it maximized to adopt; for me, if maximizing on rational preferences, ones whose possession maximizes given one's prior preferences. Decision and Game Theory and their recommendations for choice need revamping to reflect this new standard for the rationality of preferences and choices. It would not be rational when facing a Prisoner's Dilemma to adopt or co-operate from Amartya Sen's "Assurance Game" or "Other Regarding" preferences. (...)
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  16. Duncan MacIntosh (1991). McClennen's Early Co-Operative Solution to the Prisoner's Dilemma. Southern Journal of Philosophy 29 (3):341-358.
  17. Duncan MacIntosh (1991). Preference's Progress: Rational Self-Alteration and the Rationality of Morality. Dialogue 30 (1991):3-32.
    I argue that Gauthier's constrained-maximizer rationality is problematic. But standard Maximizing Rationality means one's preferences are only rational if it would not maximize on them to adopt new ones. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, it maximizes to adopt conditionally cooperative preferences. (These are detailed, with a view to avoiding problems of circularity of definition.) Morality then maximizes. I distinguish the roles played in rational choices and their bases by preferences, dispositions, moral and rational principles, the aim of rational action, and rational (...)
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  18. 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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  19. Duncan MacIntosh (1990). Ideal Moral Codes. Southern Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):389-408.
    Ideal rule utilitarianism says that a moral code C is correct if its acceptance maximizes utility; and that right action is compliance with C. But what if we cannot accept C? Rawls and L. Whitt suggest that C is correct if accepting C maximizes among codes we can accept; and that right action is compliance with C. But what if merely reinforcing a code we can't accept would maximize? G. Trianosky suggests that C is correct if reinforcing it maximizes; and (...)
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  20. Duncan MacIntosh (1989). Modality, Mechanism and Translational Indeterminacy. Dialogue 28 (03):391-.
    Ken Warmbrod thinks Quine agrees that translation is determinate if it is determinate what speakers would say in all possible circumstances; that what things would do in merely possible circumstances is determined by what their subvisible constituent mechanisms would dispose them to do on the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually; and that what speakers say is determined by their neural mechanisms. Warmbrod infers that people's neural mechanisms make translation of what people say determinate. (...)
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  21. Duncan MacIntosh (1989). Two Gauthiers? Dialogue 28 (01):43-.
    David Gauthier claims that it can be rational to co-operate in a prisoner's dilemma if one has adopted a disposition constraining one's self from maximizing one's individual expected utility, i.e., a constrained maximizer disposition. But I claim cooperation cannot be both voluntary and constrained. In resolving this tension I ask what constrained maximizer dispositions might be. One possibility is that they are rationally acquired, irrevocable psychological mechanisms which determine but do not rationalize cooperation. Another possibility is that they are rationally (...)
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  22. Duncan MacIntosh (1988). Libertarian Agency and Rational Morality: Action-Theoretic Objections to Gauthier's Dispositional Soution of the Compliance Problem. Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):499-525.
    David Gauthier thinks agents facing a prisoner's dilemma ('pd') should find it rational to dispose themselves to co-operate with those inclined to reciprocate (i.e., to acquire a constrained maximizer--'cm'--disposition), and to co-operate with other 'cmers'. Richmond Campbell argues that since dominance reasoning shows it remains to the agent's advantage to defect, his co-operation is only rational if cm "determines" him to co-operate, forcing him not to cheat. I argue that if cm "forces" the agent to co-operate, he is not acting (...)
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  23. Julia Colterjohn & Duncan MacIntosh (1987). Gerald Vision and Indexicals. Analysis 47 (1):58-60.
    The indexical thesis says that the indexical terms, “I”, “here” and “now” necessarily refer to the person, place and time of utterance, respectively, with the result that the sentence, “I am here now” cannot express a false proposition. Gerald Vision offers supposed counter-examples: he says, “I am here now”, while pointing to the wrong place on a map; or he says it in a note he puts in the kitchen for his wife so she’ll know he’s home even though he’s (...)
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  24. Duncan MacIntosh (1986). Commentary: Rationalizing Naturalism; On Hilary Kornblith's "Naturalizing Rationality&Quot;. In Newton Garver & Peter H. Hare (eds.), Naturalism and Rationality. Prometheus Books. 135-139.