This study investigated how the social identities assumed by individuals as part of their professional roles influence the nature and use of a range of rationalizations for their corruption or the corrupt acts of others. Thirty senior Indonesian public servants were interviewed about the causes and factors that perpetuated corruption during the Suharto era, and how they rationalized corrupt behavior within the role of being a civil servant. Findings revealed that corruption was routine and embedded in the daily activities and (...) administrative structures of Indonesian public servants. Rationalizing ideologies that supported corruption included a denial of responsibility, social weighting and an appeal to higher loyalties. Central to these rationalizations were explanations around the low levels of civil service salaries, poor accountability, and corrupt leadership at senior levels of the government. However, the expression of these rationalizations varied across three social or role identities of the Indonesian civil servant: the professional civil servant, the collegial civil servant, and the corrupt civil servant. The implications of these findings for interventions in organizations in developing countries are discussed. (shrink)
Set-valued choice functions provide a framework that is general enough to encompass a wide variety of theories that are significant to the study of rationality but, at the same time, offer enough structure to articulate consistency conditions that can be used to characterize some of the theories within this encompassed variety. Nonetheless, two-tiered choice functions, such as those advocated by Isaac Levi, are not easily characterized within the framework of set-valued choice functions. The present work proposes conditional choice functions as (...) the proper carriers of synchronic rationality. The resulting framework generalizes the familiar one mentioned above without emptying it and, moreover, provides a natural setting for two-tiered choice rules. (shrink)
With a global commitment to scaling up AIDS care and treatment in resource-poor settings for some of the most HIV-affected countries in Africa, availability of antiretroviral treatment is no longer the principal obstacle to expanding access to treatment. A shortage of trained healthcare personnel to initiate treatment and manage patients represents a more challenging barrier to offering life-saving treatment to all patients in need. Physician-centered treatment policies accentuate this challenge. Despite evidence that task shifting for nurse-centered AIDS patient care is (...) effective and can alleviate severe physician shortages that currently obstruct treatment scale-up, political commitment and policy action to support task shifting models of care has been slow to absent. In this paper we review the evidence in support of task shifting for AIDS treatment in Africa and argue that continued policy inaction amounts to unwarranted healthcare rationing and as such is ethically untenable. (shrink)
Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. Millar defends a conception according to which normativity is linked to reasons. On this basis he examines the structure of certain normative commitments incurred by having propositional attitudes. Controversially, he argues that ascriptions of beliefs and intentions in and of themselves attribute (...) normative commitments and that this has implications for the psychology of believing and intending. Indeed, all propositional attitudes of the sort we ascribe to people have a normative dimension, since possessing the concepts that the attitudes implicate is of its very nature commitment-incurring. The ramifications of these views for our understanding of people is explored. Millar offers illuminating discussions of reasons for belief and reasons for action; the explanation of beliefs and actions in terms of the subject's reasons; the idea that simulation has a key role in understanding people; and the limits of explanation in terms of propositional attitudes. He compares and contrasts the commitments incurred by propositional attitudes with those incurred by participating in practices, arguing that the former should not be assimilated to the latter. Understanding People will be of great interest to most philosophers of mind, as well as to those working on practical and theoretical reasoning. (shrink)
Beliefs can be evaluated from a number of perspectives. Epistemic evaluation involves epistemic standards and appropriate epistemic goals. On a truthconducive account of epistemic justification, a justified belief is one that serves the goal of believing truths and avoiding falsehoods. Beliefs are also prompted by nonepistemic reasons. This raises the question of whether, say, the pragmatic benefits of a belief are able to rationalize it. In this paper, after criticizing certain responses to this question, I shall argue that, as far (...) as beliefs are concerned, justification has an essentially epistemic character. This conclusion is then qualified by considering the conditions under which pragmatic consequences of a belief can be epistemically relevant. (shrink)
Focal points seem to be important in helping players coordinate their strategies in coordination problems. Game theory lacks, however, a formal theory of focal points. This paper proposes a theory of focal points that is based on individual rationality considerations. The two principles upon which the theory rest are the Principle of Insufficient Reason (IR) and a Principle of Individual Team Member Rationality. The way IR is modelled combines the classic notion of description symmetry and a new notion of pay-off (...) symmetry, which yields different predictions in a variety of games. The theory can explain why people do better than pure randomization in matching games. (shrink)
Beauchamp and Childress (1994) elaborated an approach to bioethical deliberations based on four universalistic principles. This framework of ‘principlism’ has been criticized from within biomedical ethics as insufficient and problematic. However, this article considers a more radical sociological critique by John Evans (2002) that rejects the entire approach of defining ‘principles’ a priori. This sociological critique is based on classical sociologist Max Weber's (1925) distinction between instrumental (‘thin’) and substantive (‘thick’) rationality. As an exploratory assessment of Evans' critique, his conceptualization (...) of ‘thin’ versus ‘thick’ rationalization is applied to a large sample of Anglo-American press coverage (n = 5126) of the bioethical controversy surrounding therapeutic cloning. Given the role of mainstream news media as a key arena for the discursive framing of biomedical research and its ethical implications, the findings raise important questions about principlism and the mediation of bioethical debates on issues such as therapeutic cloning. (shrink)
A central notion in Donald Davidson's philosophy of mind and action is "rationalization," a species of causal explanation designed in part to reveal the point or purpose of the explananda. An analogue of this notion - noninstrumental rationalization - merits serious attention. I develop an account of this species of rationalization and display its utility in explaining the production of certain desires and of motivationally biased beliefs.
We introduce a “reason-based” way of rationalizing an agent’s choice behaviour, which explains choices by specifying which properties of the options or choice context the agent cares about (the “motivationally salient properties”) and how he or she cares about these properties (the “fundamental preference relation”). Reason-based rationalizations can explain non-classical choice behaviour, including boundedly rational and sophisticated rational behaviour, and predict choices in unobserved contexts, an issue neglected in standard choice theory. We characterize the behavioural implications of different reason-based (...) models and distinguish two kinds of context-dependent motivation: “context-variant” motivation, where the agent cares about different properties in different contexts, and “context-regarding” motivation, where the agent cares not only about properties of the options, but also about properties relating to the context. (shrink)
This paper discusses a common criticism of economic models that depart from the standard rational-choice paradigm - namely, that the phenomena addressed by such models can be by some standard model. I criticize this criterion for evaluating bounded-rationality models. Using a market model with boundedly rational consumers due to Spiegler (2006a) as a test case, I show that even when it initially appears that a bounded-rationality model can be rationalized by a standard model, rationalizing models tend to come with (...) unwarranted . I conclude that we should impose a greater burden of proof on rationalizations that are offered in refutation of bounded-rationality models. (shrink)
Abstract: The standard picture of rationality requires that the agent acts so as to realize her most preferred alternative in the light of her own desires and beliefs. However, there are circumstances where such an agent can predict that she will act against her preferences. The story of Ulysses and the Sirens is the paradigmatic example of such cases. In those circumstances the orthodoxy requires the agent to be ‘sophisticated’. That is to say, she should take into account her expected (...) future choices and prevent her future self to act in certain ways. She should ‘bind’ herself to a certain course of action. This is a form of causal commitment. It is generally recognized that this form of self-commitment is the only one that is available to a rational agent. Rational commitment, where the agent gives herself a reason to act in a certain way rather than making herself act in that way, is considered not feasible. In this paper, I question this verdict. I sketch the broad outlines of a model of rational commitment, which takes as its starting point Michael Bratman’s ‘planning theory’ of intention. There are two important objections against this theory (one by John Broome and one by the Dutch philosopher Govert den Hartogh.) Both criticisms claim that such a theory is a form of ‘bootstrapping’ reasons for action into existence. In the remainder of the paper, I will defend the theory against these objections. This way, I hope to establish that defending the feasibility of rational commitment is not an obvious mistake. (shrink)
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 (...) the impossible, they must be able to be acted on in the circumstances, their targets must be attainable, and having the preferences must make their targets more likely. For groups of agents to have a distribution of preferences, their preferences must jointly have those four features, this imposing a kind of universalizability requirement on possible preferences. I then claim that, if all agents began with preferences satisfying these requirements, their preferences would not be of the morally problematic sort (on pain, variously, of circularity or contradiction in the specification of their targets). Instead, they would be either morally innocent preferences, or ones which put the agents in PDs. And it would then be instrumentally rational for the agents to prefer mutual co-operation. Thus if all agents initially had rationally permissible preferences and made rational choices of actions and preferences thereafter, they would never acquire immoral preferences, and so never be rationally moved to immoral actions. Further, the states of affairs such agents would be moved to bring about would be compatible with what Rawls’ agents would chose behind a veil of ignorance. Morality therefore reduces to rationality; necessarily, the actions categorically required by morality are also categorically required by rationality. (shrink)
This article examines the nature of rationality. The domain of rationality is customarily divided into the theoretical and the practical. Whereas theoretical or epistemic rationality is concerned with what it is rational to believe, and sometimes with rational degrees of belief, practical rationality is concerned with what it is rational to do, or intend or desire to do. This article raises some of the main issues relevant to philosophical discussion of the nature of rationality. Discussions of the nature of practical (...) rationality and reason concern norms of choice, and it seems that if such norms are not arbitrary, arguments over what those norms are must ultimately be a theoretical matter. Furthermore, this article explores rationality's role in and relation to other domains of inquiry: psychology, gender, personhood, language, science, economics, law, and evolution. (shrink)
My concern in this paper is the relationship between faith and rationality. I seek to develop a unified account of statements of faith concerning mundane matters and those concerning religious faith. To do so, I consider the sense in which faith requires going beyond the evidence, and argue that faith requires terminating the search for further evidence. Having established this, I turn to the question of whether it can still be rational to have faith; arguing that, contrary to common assumptions, (...) there need be no conflict between faith and rationality. We shall see that whether faith can be practically rational depends both on whether there are extrinsic costs associated with postponing the decision to have faith and the extent to which potential counter evidence would be conclusive. (shrink)
There are two main views about the nature of personal identity. I shall briehy describe these views, say without argument which I believe to be true, and then discuss the implications of this view for one of the main conceptions of rationality. This conception I shall call "C1assical Prudence." I shall argue that, on what I believe to be the true view about personal identity, Classical Prudence is indefensible.
I argue that the "why be rational?" challenge raised by John Broome and Niko Kolodny rests upon a mistake that is analogous to the mistake that H.A. Pritchard famously claimed beset the “why be moral?” challenge. The failure to locate an independent justification for obeying rational requirements should do nothing whatsoever to undermine our belief in the normativity of rationality. I suggest that we should conceive of the demand for a satisfactory vindicating explanation of the normativity of rationality instead in (...) terms of the demand for a philosophical characterisation of rationality that can do something to explain why rational requirements are the kinds of things that are, by their very nature, normative. I consider several accounts that have recently been offered – the distinctive-object account, the proper functioning account, and the subjective reasons account – and argue that none succeeds in meeting this challenge. I then sketch a new account, the “first-personal authority account”, which holds that rational requirements are what I call “standpoint-relative demands” concerning the attitudes we ought to have and form; and that complying with rational requirements is a matter of honouring our first-personal authority as agents. I suggest that the first-personal authority account does a better job of meeting the challenge. (shrink)
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.
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.
This article is an introduction to the recent debate about whether rationality is normative – that is, very roughly, about whether we should have attitudes which fit together in a coherent way. I begin by explaining an initial problem – the “detaching problem” – that arises on the assumption that we should have coherent attitudes. I then explain the prominent “wide-scope” solution to this problem, and some of the central objections to it. I end by considering the options that arise (...) if we reject the wide-scope solution. (shrink)
This chapter argues that attention is a distinctive mode of consciousness, which plays an essential functional role in making information accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action. The main line of argument can be stated quite simply. Attention is what makes information fully accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action. But what makes information fully accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action is a distinctive mode of consciousness. Therefore, (...) attention is a distinctive mode of consciousness. In a slogan: attention is rational-access consciousness. (shrink)
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 (...) adopt preferences on which it maximizes to retaliate. I thus save the theory that rational actions must maximize, and extend it into the rational criticism of preferences. (shrink)
This paper provides an account of what it is to have faith in a proposition p, in both religious and mundane contexts. It is argued that faith in p doesn’t require adopting a degree of belief that isn’t supported by one’s evidence but rather it requires terminating one’s search for further evidence and acting on the supposition that p. It is then shown, by responding to a formal result due to I.J. Good, that doing so can be rational in a (...) number of circumstances. If expected utility theory is the correct account of practical rationality, then having faith can be both epistemically and practically rational if the costs associated with gathering further evidence or postponing the decision are high. If a more permissive framework is adopted, then having faith can be rational even when there are no costs associated with gathering further evidence. (shrink)
An important advance in normativity research over the last decade is an increased understanding of the distinction, and difference, between normativity and rationality. Normativity concerns or picks out a broad set of concepts that have in common that they are, put loosely, guiding. For example, consider two commonly used normative concepts: that of a normative reason and that of ought. To have a normative reason to perform some action is for there to be something that counts in favour of performing (...) that action. Likewise with ought, when there is sufficient evidence for something, one ought to believe it (at least under normal circumstances). Not all guidance need be directed towards a specific state or a specific action. Subject to the requirements of normativity, too, are relations. It is commonly believed, for example, that we ought not to hold contradictory beliefs.1 At least some of the requirements that concern relations amongst an agent’s mental states are, or seem, distinctive. Agents who fail to satisfy these requirements are considered, at least to some degree, irrational. On many current views, being irrational is distinct in some way from not being how one ought to be; rationality is a concept distinct from normativity. Much of the literature on this topic over the last decade stems from attempts to capture the characteristic features of the requirements of rationality. Two influential views in particular did much to set the agenda. The first of these two was put forward John Broome.2 His view, the particulars of which I shall discuss in more detail below, is that the requirements of rationality could be expressed using a normative relation, which he calls a ‘normative requirement’. Normative requirements are conditionals governed by an all-thingsconsidered ought. In the case of rationality, the conditional is made up entirely of mental states.. (shrink)
A discussion of George Bealer's conception and defense of rational intuition as a basis of philosophical knowledge, under three main heads: a) the phenomenology of intellectual intuition; b) the status of such intuition as a basic source of evidence, and the explanation of what gives it that status; and c) the defense of intuition against those who would reject it and exclude it on principle from the set of valid sources of evidence.
Epistemic akrasia arises when one holds a belief even though one judges it to be irrational or unjustified. While there is some debate about whether epistemic akrasia is possible, this paper will assume for the sake of argument that it is in order to consider whether it can be rational. The paper will show that it can. More precisely, cases can arise in which both the belief one judges to be irrational and one’s judgment of it are epistemically rational in (...) the sense that both are supported by sufficient evidence. (shrink)
I argue that some cases of delusions show the inadequacy of those theories of interpretation that rely on a necessary rationality constraint on belief ascription. In particular I challenge the view that irrational beliefs can be ascribed only against a general background of rationality. Subjects affected by delusions seem to be genuine believers and their behaviour can be successfully explained in intentional terms, but they do not meet those criteria that according to Davidson (1985a) need to be met for the (...) background of rationality to be in place. (shrink)
Why is science so rare and faith so common in human history? Traditional cultures persist because it is subjectively rational for each maturing child to defer to the unanimous beliefs of his elders, regardless of any personal doubts. Science is possible only when individuals promote new theories (which will probably be proven false) and forgo the epistemic advantages of accepting established views (which are more likely to be true). Hence, progressive science progress must rely upon the epistemic altruism of experimental (...) thinkers, while traditions of faith depend on the epistemic self-interest of their followers. (shrink)
This paper attempts to connect recent cross-disciplinary treatments of the cognitive or rational significance of emotions with work in contemporary philosophy identifying an evaluative propositional content of emotions. An emphasis on the perspectival nature of emotional evaluations allows for a notion of emotional rationality that does not seem to be available on alternative accounts.
Richard Brandt, following Hume, famously argued that suicide could be rational. In this he was going against a common ‘absolutist’ view that suicide is irrational almost by definition. Arguments to the effect that suicide is morally permissible or prohibited tend to follow from one’s position on this first issue of rationality. I want to argue that the concept of rationality is not appropriately ascribed – or withheld – to the victim or the act or the desire to commit the act. (...) To support this, I explore how the concept is ascribed and withheld in ordinary situations, and show that it is essentially future-oriented. Since the suicide victim has no future, it makes no sense to call his act rational or irrational. The more appropriate reaction to a declared desire for suicide, or to the news of a successful suicide, is horror and pity, and these are absent from Brandt’s account, as is a humble acknowledgement of the profound mystery at the heart of any suicide. (shrink)
The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls the Classical Model of rationality and shows why they are false. He then presents an alternative theory of the role of rationality in thought and action. -/- A central point of Searle's theory is that only irrational actions are directly caused by beliefs and desires—for example, the actions of (...) a person in the grip of an obsession or addiction. In most cases of rational action, there is a gap between the motivating desire and the actual decision making. The traditional name for this gap is "freedom of the will." According to Searle, all rational activity presupposes free will. For rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options. -/- Unlike many philosophical tracts, Rationality in Action invites the reader to apply the author's ideas to everyday life. Searle shows, for example, that contrary to the traditional philosophical view, weakness of will is very common. He also points out the absurdity of the claim that rational decision making always starts from a consistent set of desires. Rational decision making, he argues, is often about choosing between conflicting reasons for action. In fact, humans are distinguished by their ability to be rationally motivated by desire-independent reasons for action. Extending his theory of rationality to the self, Searle shows how rational deliberation presupposes an irreducible notion of the self. He also reveals the idea of free will to be essentially a thesis of how the brain works. (shrink)
Real-world agents do not know all consequences of what they know. But we are reluctant to say that a rational agent can fail to know some trivial consequence of what she knows. Since every consequence of what she knows can be reached via chains of trivial cot be dismissed easily, as some have attempted to do. Rather, a solution must give adequate weight to the normative requirements on rational agents’ epistemic states, without treating those agents as mathematically ideal reasoners. I’ll (...) argue that agents can fail to know trivial consequences of what they know, but never determinately. Such cases are epistemic oversights on behalf of the agent in question, and the facts about epistemic oversights are always indeterminate facts. As a result, we are never in a position to assert that such-and-such constitutes an epistemic oversight for agent i (for we may rationally assert only determinate truths). I then develop formal epistemic models according to which epistemic accessibility relations are vague. Given these models, we can show that epistemic oversights always concern indeterminate cases of knowledge. (shrink)
A simple reductive view of intuition holds that intuition is a type of belief. That an agent who intuits that p sometimes believes that p is false is often thought to demonstrate that the simple reductive view is false. I show that this argument is inconclusive, but also that an argument for the same conclusion can be rebuilt using the notion of rational criticisability. I then use that notion to argue that perception is also not reducible to belief, and that (...) neither intuition nor perception is reducible to credence. (shrink)
It is often taken for granted in standard theories of interpretation that there cannot be intentionality without rationality. According to the background argument, a system can be interpreted as having irrational beliefs only against a general background of rationality. Starting from the widespread assumption that delusions can be reasonably described as irrational beliefs, I argue here that the background argument fails to account for their intentional description.
This is a book on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, I defend a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons.
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 (...) rationally choose; thus justice cannot always be a rationally contracted optimum. Howard Sobel provides the point of departure. (shrink)
Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...) action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
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 (...) runs headlong into the now familiar “bootstrapping” objection that helped illuminate the need to vindicate the normativity of rationality in the first place. Lastly, even if Southwood is right—the demands of rationality just are the demands or our first-personal standpoints—the explanation as to why our standpoints generate reasons will entail that we sometimes have no reason at all to be rational. (shrink)
Social identity poses one of the most important challenges to rational choice theory, but rational choice theorists do not hold a common position regarding identity. On one hand, externalist rational choice ignores the concept of identity or reduces it to revealed preferences. On the other hand, internalist rational choice considers identity as a key concept in explaining social action because it permits expressive motivations to be included in the models. However, internalist theorists tend to reduce identity to desire—the desire of (...) a person to express his or her social being. From an internalist point of view, that is, from a viewpoint in which not only desires but also beliefs play a key role in social explanations as mental entities, this article rejects externalist reductionism and proposes a redefinition of social identity as a net of beliefs about oneself, beliefs that are indexical, robust, and socially shaped. (shrink)
The Humean conception of the self consists in the belief-desire model of motivation and the utility-maximizing model of rationality. This conception has dominated Western thought in philosophy and the social sciences ever since Hobbes’ initial formulation in Leviathan and Hume’s elaboration in the Treatise of Human Nature. Bentham, Freud, Ramsey, Skinner, Allais, von Neumann and Morgenstern and others have added further refinements that have brought it to a high degree of formal sophistication. Late twentieth century moral philosophers such as Rawls, (...) Brandt, Frankfurt, Nagel and Williams have taken it for granted, and have made use of it to supply metaethical foundations for a wide variety of normative moral theories. But the Humean conception of the self also leads to seemingly insoluble problems about moral motivation, rational final ends, and moral justification. Can it be made to work? (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the question of whether the expected consequences of holding a belief can affect the rationality of doing so. Special attention is given to various ways in which one might attempt to exert some measure of control over what one believes and the normative status of the beliefs that result from the successful execution of such projects. I argue that the lessons which emerge from thinking about the case ofbelief have important implications for the way we (...) should think about the rationality of a number of other propositional attitudes,such as regret, desire, and fear. Finally,I suggest that a lack of clarity with respect to the relevant issues has given rise to a number of rather serious philosophical mistakes. (shrink)
In this monograph, I argue that the received conception of the aim and results of Kant’s Paralogisms must be revised in light of a proper understanding of the rational psychology that is the most proximate target of Kant’s attack. Introduction. Chapter 1: The Marriage of Reason and Experience: Wolff’s Rational Psychology. Chapter 2: From Wolff to Kant: Rational Psychology in the 18th Century. Chapter 3: The Divorce of Reason and Experience: Pure Rational Psychology and the Substantiality of the Soul. Chapter (...) 4: The Achilles and the Tortoise: The Simplicity of the Soul. Chapter 5: The Aeneas Argument: The Personality of the Soul. Chapter 6: Cartesian Questions: Idealism and the Illusion of the Soul. Chapter 7: Kant’s Rational Psychology: Fundamental Forces and the Regulative Use of the Idea of the Soul. Conclusion. (shrink)
The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) the revealed preference (...) theory of optimization, and (3) the infinite regress of optimization. We conclude that (1) and (2) provide evidence only for the weak thesis that rationality does not imply optimization. But (3) is seen to deliver a significant argument for the strong thesis that optimization does not imply rationality. (shrink)
The paper shows why and how an empirical study of fast-and-frugal heuristics can provide norms of good reasoning, and thus how (and how far) rationality can be naturalized. We explain the heuristics that humans often rely on in solving problems, for example, choosing investment strategies or apartments, placing bets in sports, or making library searches. We then show that heuristics can lead to judgments that are as accurate as or even more accurate than strategies that use more information and computation, (...) including optimization methods. A standard way to defend the use of heuristics is by reference to accuracy-effort trade-offs. We take a different route, emphasizing ecological rationality (the relationship between cognitive heuristics and environment), and argue that in uncertain environments, more information and computation are not always better (the “less-can-be-more” doctrine). The resulting naturalism about rationality is thus normative because it not only describes what heuristics people use, but also in which specific environments one should rely on a heuristic in order to make better inferences. While we desist from claiming that the scope of ecological rationality is unlimited, we think it is of wide practical use. (shrink)
There are a number of proposals as to exactly how reasons, ends and rationality are related. It is often thought that practical reasons can be analyzed in terms of practical rationality, which, in turn, has something to do with the pursuit of ends. I want to argue against the conceptual priority of rationality and the pursuit of ends, and in favor of the conceptual priority of reasons. This case comes in two parts. I first argue for a new conception of (...) ends by which all ends are had under the guise of reasons. I then articulate a sense of rationality, procedural rationality, that is connected with the pursuit of ends so conceived, where one is rational to the extent that one is motivated to act in accordance with reasons as they appear to be. Unfortunately, these conceptions of ends and procedural rationality are inadequate for building an account of practical reasons, though I try to explain why it is that the rational pursuit of ends generates intuitive but misleading accounts of genuine normative reasons. The crux of the problem is an insensitivity to an is-seems distinction, where procedural rationality concerns reasons as they appear, and what we are after is a substantive sense of rationality that concerns reasons as they are. Based on these distinct senses of rationality, and some disambiguation of what it is to have a reason, I offer a critique of internalist analyses of one’s reasons in terms of the motivational states of one’s ideal, procedurally rational self, and I offer an alternative analysis of one’s practical reasons in terms of practical wisdom that overcomes objections to related reasons externalist views. The resulting theory is roughly Humean about procedural rationality and roughly Aristotelian about reasons, capturing the core truths of both camps. (shrink)
On one conception of practical rationality, being rational is most fundamentally a matter of avoiding incoherent combinations of attitudes. This conception construes the norms of rationality as codified by rational requirements, and one plausible rational requirement is that you not be akratic: that you not judge, all things considered, that you ought to ϕ while failing to choose or intend to ϕ. On another conception of practical rationality, being rational is most fundamentally a matter of thinking or acting in a (...) way that’s informed by your practical reasons. This second conception construes the norms of rationality in terms that appear to allow the possibility of rational akrasia, since your capacity to act on your reasons can function at a level that need not involve deliberative judgment. (As we’ll see, it is not implausible to regard your deliberative judgment as merely one medium for registering your practical reasons, with emotions and non-deliberative habits perhaps serving as other media.) Though their treatments of akrasia make them seem incompatible, I’ll argue that the two conceptions of rationality are not incompatible. It is possible to accommodate the core insight motivating defenses of ‘rational’ akrasia within the conception of rationality as codified by requirements of rational coherence. (shrink)
To be rational is to be engaged in collaborative, corrigible, historically informed inquiry and deliberation. Critical intelligence is merely the beginning of rationality. Substantive rationality also requires reflective and imaginative inquiry. Its active exercise presupposes trust and mandates a commitment to the common good, to responsible attempts to create the political institutions and social conditions on which intellectual and political trust can flourish. Without these, formal and calculative intelligence are – however brilliant – mere cleverness; and without these, rationality can (...) undo itself. (shrink)
According to the principle of patient autonomy, patients have the right to be self-determining in decisions about their own medical care, which includes the right to refuse treatment. However, a treatment refusal may legitimately be overridden in cases where the decision is judged to be incompetent. It has recently been proposed that in assessments of competence, attention should be paid to the evaluative judgments that guide patients' treatment decisions.In this paper I examine this claim in light of theories of practical (...) rationality, focusing on the difficult case of an anorexic person who is judged to be competent and refuses treatment, thereby putting themselves at risk of serious harm. I argue that the standard criteria for competence assess whether a treatment decision satisfies the goals of practical decision-making, and that this same criterion can be applied to a patient's decision-guiding commitments. As a consequence I propose that a particular understanding of practical rationality offers a theoretical framework for justifying involuntary treatment in the anorexia case. (shrink)
The answer to the title question is “No.” The first section argues, using the example of Huckleberry Finn, that rational agents need not be motivated by their explicit judgments of rightness and wrongness. Section II rejects a plausible argument to the conclusion that rational agents must have some moral concerns. The third section clarifies the relevant concept of irrationality and argues that moral incoherence does not equate with this common relevant concept. Section IV questions a rational requirement for prudential concern (...) and whether a requirement for moral concern would follow from it. Section V examines the rationality of amoralists and partial amoralists, and Sect. VI closes with speculation on why there might seem to be a rational requirement to be morally motivated. (shrink)
Does rationality require us to take the means to our ends? Intuitively, it seems clear that it does. And yet it has proven difficult to explain why this should be so: after all, if one is pursuing an end that one has decisive reason not to pursue, the balance of reasons will presumably speak against one's taking the means necessary to bring that end about. In this paper I propose a novel account of the instrumental requirement which addresses this problem. (...) On the view I develop, the instrumental requirement is normative not because agents have reasons to comply with it, but because it is a normative standard intrinsic to intentional action—i.e., it is a standard that partly spells out what it is to exercise one's agency well. (shrink)