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. On this theory, it is rational to treat something different as the aim when doing so would advance the original aim. I argue that the idea that this would be irrational bad faith entails contradictions and so is false, as must be theories saying that rationally we must always treat as the aim the bringing about of objectively good states of affairs or obeying a universalizable moral code. (shrink)
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.
I argue that Gauthier's constrained-maximizer rationality is problematic. But standard MaximizingRationality 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 decision rules. I argue that MaximizingRationality necessarily structures conclusive reasons for action. Thus conations of any sort can base rational choices only if the conations are structured like a coherent preference function; rational actions maximize on such functions. Maximization-constraining dispositions cannot integrate into a coherent preference function. (shrink)
One of the most important issues in moral philosophy is whether morality can be justified by rationality. The purpose of this study is to examine Gauthier’s moral theory, focusing on the disposition of constrained maximization, which is the main thrust of his project to justify morality rationally. First of all, I shall investigate Gauthier’s assumption and condition for the rationality of the disposition of constrained maximization so as to disclose that the disposition of constrained maximization is not necessarily (...) chosen by rational agents. Then I shall explore his other arguments including ones for the reinterpretation of rationality and the self-critical reflection of rational beings, which can be considered as his further efforts to make the disposition of constrained maximization a rational choice. By exploring them, I shall attempt to indicate that those arguments are not valid so long as he clings to the maximizing conception of rationality and thereby this conception of rationality itself is not enough to provide morality with a basis. (shrink)
This is Chapter 4 of my Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. In this chapter, I argue that that any plausible nonconsequentialist theory can be consequentialized, which is to say that, for any plausible nonconsequentialist theory, we can construct a consequentialist theory that yields the exact same set of deontic verdicts that it yields.
Decision theory, understood as providing a normative account of rationality in action, is often thought to be an adequate formalization of instrumental reasoning. As a model, there is much to be said for it. However, if decision theory is to adequately account for correct instrumental reasoning, then the axiomatic conditions by which it links preference to action must be normative for choice. That is, a choice must be rationally defective unless it proceeds from a preference set that satisfies the (...) axiomatic conditions. -/- The crucial feature of standard decision theory for present purposes is that it conceives rational action as maximizing, as doing the best that one can in terms of satisfying one’s preferences. For maximizing to be possible, the preference set in question must completely order a person’s options. But I have argued elsewhere that that condition is often unmet by actual preference sets, so maximizing is not always available. Given that it is not, satisficing deserves attention, both as the most important alternative to maximizing and for the lessons it can yield with respect to goal-directed action. With those lessons in hand, standard maximizing decision theory is reconsidered, with the aim of showing that it does not adequately represent the normative distinction between means and ends. (shrink)
In section I, I argue that the principal reason why inconsistency is a fault is that it involves having at least one false belief. In section 2, I argue that inconsistency need not be a serious epistemic fault. The argument in section 2 is based on the notion that what matters epistemically is always in the final analysis an item's effect on attaining the goal of truth. In section 3 I describe two cases in which it is best from an (...) epistemic point of view to knowingly retain inconsistent beliefs. In section 4 my goal is to put into perspective the charge that relativism ought to be rejected because it involves one in inconsistency. (shrink)
Let us say that an individual possesses aprincipled preference if she prefers satisfying her preferences without violating the principles of justice governing her community to satisfying her preferences by violating these principles. Although living among possessors of principled preferences benefits individuals, maintaining such a preference is individually costly. Further, individuals can benefit from others possessing principled preferences without themselves possessing one. In this paper, I argue that occupying a choice situation which mirrors key aspects of our own situation, maximizing (...)rationality requires individuals to develop and maintain principled preferences.To establish that maintaining a principled preference is individually rational for the occupants of such a choice situation, I define a range of individual strategies for them, model their choice of individual strategies as a game, and argue that this game involves an equilibrium in which all of its participants would choose to develop and maintain a principled preference. (shrink)
It is argued that by explicating rationality in terms of benefits balancing or outweighing costs instead of in terms of maximizing or satisficing something, a more adequate view of rationality is obtained.
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)
With the discovery of voluminous discordant empirical evidence, maximizing expected utility is rapidly disappearing as the core of the theory of human rationality, and a theory of bounded rationality, embracing both the processes and products of choice, is replacing it. There remains a large task of organizing our picture of economic and social processes and adding the new facts needed to shape the theory in an empirically sound way. It is also urgent that new tools now available (...) for conducting empirical inquiry and constructing models be incorporated in social science graduate education. (shrink)
This article addresses major arguments in the controversy about the “rationality” of moral behavior: can moral behavior be explained by rational choice theory (RCT)? The two positions discussed are the incentives thesis (norms are incentives as any other costs and benefits) and the autonomy thesis claiming that moral behavior has nothing to do with utility. The article analyses arguments for the autonomy thesis by J. Elster, A. Etzioni, and J. G. March and J. P. Olsen. Finally, the general claim (...) is discussed whether norm following and norm emergence are utility maximizing. The conclusion is that the autonomy thesis is not tenable if one applies a wide subjectivist, social psychological version of RCT that includes the assumption of “bounded rationality.” The autonomy thesis is only compatible with a narrow version of RCT that excludes internal outcomes and that refers to norms that do not have external outcomes. It is argued that such a narrow version is not capable of explaining many forms of behavior social scientists are interested in. (shrink)
On analyzing the problem that arises whenever the set of maximal elements is large, and a selection is then required (see Peris & Subiza 1998), we realize that logical ways of selecting among maximals violate the classical notion and axioms of rationality. We arrive at the same conclusion if we analyze solutions to the problem of choosing from a tournament (where maximal elements do not necessarily exist). So, in our opinion the notion of rationality must be discussed, not (...) only in the traditional sense of external conditions (Sen 1993), but in terms of the internal information provided by the binary relation. (shrink)
In Chapter 2 of Escape from Leviathan, Jan Lester defends two hypotheses: that instrumental rationality requires agents to maximise the satisfaction of their wants and that all agents actually meet this requirement. In addition, he argues that all agents are self-interested (though not necessarily egoistic) and he offers an account of categorical moral desires which entails that no agent ever does what he genuinely feels to be morally wrong. I show that Lester’s two hypotheses are false because they cannot (...) accommodate weakness of will, because they are inconsistent with agency, which requires free will, because ends, obligations and values cannot be reduced to desires, and because maximisation is often not possible. Further, Lester’s claim that agents are self-interested is vacuous, his attempted reduction of moral behaviour to want-satisfaction fails, and his contention, that agents always do what they genuinely think to be morally required, seems untenable. A defence of freedom that depends on homo economicus is far from promising. (shrink)
One reason why humans don't behave according to standard game theoretical rationality is because it's not realistic to assume that everyone else is behaving rationally. An individual is expected to have psychological mechanisms that function to maximize his/her long-term payoffs in a world of potentially “irrational” individuals. Psychological decision theory has to be individualistic because individuals make decisions, not groups.
We develop a logical system that captures two different interpretations of what extensive games model, and we apply this to a long-standing debate in game theory between those who defend the claim that common knowledge of rationality leads to backward induction or subgame perfect (Nash) equilibria and those who reject this claim. We show that a defense of the claim à la Aumann (1995) rests on a conception of extensive game playing as a one-shot event in combination with a (...) principle of rationality that is incompatible with it, while a rejection of the claim à la Reny (1988) assumes a temporally extended, many-moment interpretation of extensive games in combination with implausible belief revision policies. In addition, the logical system provides an original inductive and implicit axiomatization of rationality in extensive games based on relations of dominance rather than the usual direct axiomatization of rationality as maximization of expected utility. (shrink)
In discussions surrounding epistemology and rationality, it is often useful to assume an agent is rational or ideally rational. Often, this ideal rationality assumption is spelled out along the following lines: -/- 1. The agent believes everything about a situation which the evidence entitles her to believe and nothing which it does not. -/- 2. The agent believes all the logical consequences of any of her beliefs. -/- 3. The agent knows her own mind: if she believes P, (...) she believes that she believes P; and if she doesn't believe P, she believes that she doesn't believe P. -/- 4. The agent believes nothing of the form 'P and it is not the case that P.' -/- 5. If an agent's background belief-set satisfies 1-4 and if rationality requires the agent to add P to her belief-set, then the resulting belief-set will also satisfy 1-4. -/- While individually plausible, there are cases in which holding on to 1-5 generates paradox. Some resolve such paradoxical cases by granting 1-5 but arguing while ideally rational agents can exist, they can't possibly ever find themselves in such a situation: such case descriptions are epistemically incoherent. Others allow that rational agents can coherently find themselves in such odd circumstances, and argue that it's more reasonable to weaken our concept of ideal rationality and give up premise (2) above. However, this strategy has also been rejected. My aim in this paper is to defend the utility of positing an ideally rational agent in such paradoxical circumstances. I argue in such cases we should give up (2), in particular the assumption that (necessarily) if an ideally rational agent believes both P and the conditional, if P then Q, then she believes Q.. What's important is to hold on to the goal of positing ideal rationality: to maximize the amount of true or probably true information a thinker can justifiably believe in a given circumstance. Normally that will mean holding on to (2), but these unusual paradoxical cases are best handled by giving up (2). (shrink)
We have three goals in this paper. First, we outline an ontology of stance, and explain the role that modes of engagement and styles of reasoning play in the characterization of a stance. Second, we argue that we do enjoy a degree of control over the modes of engagement and styles of reasoning we adopt. Third, we contend that maximizing one’s prospects for change (within the framework of other constraints, e.g., beliefs, one has) also maximizes one’s rationality.
It would be very difficult to discuss the question concerning the hypothesis of omniscience in microeconomics without relating this hypothesis to the more fundamental hypothesis of rationality (usually referred to as rationality principle or postulate) which is at the base of the very idea of an economic theory and even social sciences. Indeed omniscience is a quality which was typically attributed to homo oeconomicus whose essential characteristic is to be perfectly "rational". This association between omniscience and rationality (...) goes back to the marginalist revolution which progressively brought economists to model economic agents as rational calculators who make each decision by systematically maximizing their utility through the standard application of more or less sophisticated mathematical methods. But since the very idea of such a maximization has no meaning if all relevant parameters and variables are not carefully taken into account, it became relatively common to associate omniscience (the required knowledge of such parameters and variables) and rationality (the disposition to make decisions which tend to maximize the degree of success in reaching a goal). (shrink)
James Griffin (1986, 1997, 2000) and Ruth Chang (1997) have argued that alternatives (and values) can be comparable when it is neither true that one is better than the other, nor true that they are exactly equal in value. The relation which holds between them has gone under various names: the alternatives are (Griffin) or (Chang). In this paper, I give a formal analysis of this relation. This analysis allows us to distinguish between two slightly different notions of . It (...) is argued that the distinction between these notions is important for discussions of rationality, as is the distinction between or and incomparability. (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)
From a psychological point of view, human wants and desires form a multitiered structure. If values are related in any way to human affectivity or desire - and this is something most maximizing theorists would certainly not dispute - then we are forced to recognize that human values also form a multi-tiered structure. Failure to appreciate this connection leads maximization theorists seriously astray, both in their interpretation of human behavior and in their postulates of rationality. Optimizing involves satisficing, (...) not strictly maximization; satisficing is truly rational. (shrink)
Baron has provided some examples of nonconsequentialism in decision making and describes them as biases; these may be the remnants of the biological origin of decision making. One may argue that decisions are made on the basis not of rationality but affective processes. Behavior follows the trend toward maximizing pleasure. This mechanism might explain apparent nonconsequentialism.
The requirements of rationality are fundamental in practical and theoretical philosophy. Nonetheless, there exists no usable 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’, 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 (...) of rationality. (shrink)
The paper investigates the minimum level of individual rationality that is needed for market prices to converge toward their equilibrium level. It does so by examining the theoretical and methodological foundations of the ?zero?intelligence? (ZI) agent trading approach, with which Gode and Sunder (1993a) claimed that weak individual rationality requirements suffice to obtain equilibrium prices. The paper shows that ZI agents are endowed with a higher degree of rationality than previously believed. Though not maximizing utility, they (...) exhibit utility?improving behavior, and their decision?making rules fulfill important predictions of the theory of choice based on maximization, namely downward?sloping individual demand and upward?sloping individual supply. Additional cognitive skills would be required, were some simplifying assumptions of the basic model removed. Gode and Sunder's analysis supports a non?neoclassical rational choice theory, in which optimization can be replaced by a variety of behavioral rules, while still preserving important results on the functioning of markets. (shrink)
This article evaluates alternative models for explaining human behavior. In particular, it compares the resourceful, evaluative, maximizing model (REMM) with the economic (or money maximizing) model of human behavior. The theoretical framework is developed to enhance our understanding of "individual value creation" and to seek an economically rational explanation to: Why Warren Buffett is giving his money away to charity? The article develops a framework of biological, material, and immaterial sources of value. The article additionally extends the existing (...) REMM and finds several economically rational reasons for him to give away his money including the present value of help and goodwill, gained control, and lowered transaction costs. (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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Some philosophers have tried to establish a connection between the normativity of instrumental rationality and the paradox presented by Lewis Carroll in his 1895 paper “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles.” I here examine and argue against accounts of this connection presented by Peter Railton and James Dreier before presenting my own account and discussing its implications for instrumentalism (the view that all there is to practical rationality is instrumental rationality). In my view, the potential for a (...) Carroll-style regress just shows us that since instrumental rationality involves a higher-order commitment to combine our willing an end with our taking the necessary means, it therefore cannot, on pain of regress, itself be added as a conjunct to one of the elements to be combined. This view does not support instrumentalism. (shrink)
We discuss Sharon Ryan’s Deep Rationality Theory of wisdom, defended recently in her “Wisdom, Knowledge and Rationality.” We argue that (a) Ryan’s use of the term “rationality” needs further elaboration; (b) there is a problem with requiring that the wise person possess justified beliefs but not necessarily knowledge; (c) the conditions of DRT are not all necessary; (d) the conditions are not sufficient. At the end of our discussion, we suggest that there may be a problem with (...) the very assumption that an informative, non-circular set of necessary and sufficient conditions of wisdom can be given. (shrink)
This paper describes the historical background to contemporary discussions of empathy and rationality. It looks at the philosophy of mind and its implications for action explanation and the philosophy of history. In the nineteenth century, the concept of empathy became prominent within philosophical aesthetics, from where it was extended to describe the way we grasp other minds. This idea of empathy as a way of understanding others echoed through later accounts of historical understanding as involving re-enactment, noticeably that of (...) R. G. Collingwood. For much of the late twentieth century, philosophers of history generally neglected questions about action explanation. In the philosophy of mind, however, Donald Davidson inspired widespread discussions of the role of folk psychology and rationality in mental causation and the explanation of actions, and some philosophers of history drew on his ideas to reconsider issues related to empathy. Today, philosophers inspired by the discovery of mirror neurons and the theory of mind debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists are again making the concept of empathy central to philosophical analyses of action explanation and to historical understanding. (shrink)
Current psychology of human reasoning is divided into several different approaches. For instance, there is a major dispute over the question whether human beings are able to apply norms of the formal models of rationality such as rules of logic, or probability and decision theory, correctly. While researchers following the “heuristics and biases” approach argue that we deviate systematically from these norms, and so are perhaps deeply irrational, defenders of the “bounded rationality” approach think not only that the (...) evidence for this conclusion is problematic but also that we should not, at least not very often, use formal norms in reasoning. I argue that while the evidence for heuristics and biases is indeed questionable, the bounded rationality approach has its limits too. Most especially, we should not infer that formal norms play no role in a comprehensive theory of rationality. Instead, formal and bounded rules of reasoning might even be connected in a more comprehensive theory of rationality. (shrink)
We formalise a notion of dynamic rationality in terms of a logic of conditional beliefs on (doxastic) plausibility models. Similarly to other epistemic statements (e.g. negations of Moore sentences and of Muddy Children announcements), dynamic rationality changes its meaning after every act of learning, and it may become true after players learn it is false. Applying this to extensive games, we “simulate” the play of a game as a succession of dynamic updates of the original plausibility model: the (...) epistemic situation when a given node is reached can be thought of as the result of a joint act of learning (via public announcements) that the node is reached. We then use the notion of “stable belief”, i.e. belief that is preserved during the play of the game, in order to give an epistemic condition for backward induction: rationality and common knowledge of stable belief in rationality. This condition is weaker than Aumann’s and compatible with the implicit assumptions (the “epistemic openness of the future”) underlying Stalnaker’s criticism of Aumann’s proof. The “dynamic” nature of our concept of rationality explains why our condition avoids the apparent circularity of the “backward induction paradox”: it is consistent to (continue to) believe in a player’s rationality after updating with his irrationality. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to clarify the role of the distinction between belief and opinion in the light of Dennett's intentional stance. In particular, I consider whether the distinction could be used for a defence of the stance from various criticisms. I will then apply the distinction to the so-called `paradoxes of irrationality'. In this context I will propose that we should avoid the postulation of `boundaries' or `gaps' within the mind, and will attempt to show that a (...) useful treatment of the paradoxes can be obtained by revising the rationality assumption. (shrink)
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 theory of rationality, and what the difficulties involved in doing so can teach us about the foundations of practical rationality. (shrink)
This collection of essays is dedicated to William Rowe, with great affection, respect, and admiration. The philosophy of religion, once considered a deviation from an otherwise analytically rigorous discipline, has flourished over the past two decades. This collection of new essays by twelve distinguished philosophers of religion explores three broad themes: religious attitudes of faith, belief, acceptance, and love; human and divine freedom; and the rationality of religious belief. Contributors include: William Alston, Robert Audi, Jan Cover, Martin Curd, Peter (...) van Inwagen, Norman Kretzmann, George Nakhnikian, John Hawthorne, Philip Quinn, James Ross, Eleonore Stump, and William Wainwright. (shrink)