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Rational requirements, as the expression has come to be used, are requirements of coherence – for instance, the requirements to be consistent in your beliefs and in your intentions, and to intend what you take to be the necessary means to the ends you intend. The central questions about such requirements include: (i) how are rational requirements best formulated? For instance, should we accept so-called wide- or narrow-scope formulations of rational requirements (ii) Are there reasons to comply with rational requirements (that is, to be coherent)? If not, in what sense, if any, is rationality normative? (iii) How do rational requirements relate to other kinds of requirements (for instance, requirements of morality or prudence) and other normative notions, such as reasons, ‘ought’, and good reasoning?

Key works Much recent work on this topic takes off from Broome 1999 and Kolodny 2005
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  1. Leslie Allan, Towards an Objective Theory of Rationality.
    Drawing on insights from Imre Lakatos' seminal work on theories of rationality, Leslie Allan develops seven criteria for rational theory choice that avoid presuming the rationality of the scientific enterprise. He shows how his axioms of rationality follow from the general demands of an objectivist epistemology. Allan concludes by considering two weighty objections to his framework.
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  2. Muralidharan Anantharaman (2015). Defending the Uniqueness Thesis - A Reply to Luis Rosa. Logos and Episteme 6 (1):129-139.
    The Uniqueness Thesis (U), according to Richard Feldman and Roger White, says that for a given set of evidence E and a proposition P, only one doxastic attitude about P is rational given E. Luis Rosa has recently provided two counterexamples against U which are supposed to show that even if there is a sense in which choosing between two doxastic attitudes is arbitrary, both options are equally and maximally rational. Both counterexamples work by exploiting the idea that ‘ought implies (...)
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  3. Chrisoula Andreou (2005). The Voices of Reason. American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1):33 - 45.
    It is widely held that instrumental reasoning to a practical conclusion is parasitic on non-instrumental practical reasoning. This conclusion is based on the claim that when there is no reason to adopt a certain end, there is no reason to take the means (qua means) to that end. But, as will be argued, while there is a sense of reason according to which the previous statement is true, there is another sense according to which it is false. Furthermore, in both (...)
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  4. Ahmed Jamal Anwar (2006). Rational Behaviour: A Review of the Requirements of Instrumental Rationality. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Progress 39:11.
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  5. Jos Luis Bermdez (2011). Decision Theory and Rationality. Oxford University Press.
    Decision Theory and Rationality offers a challenging new interpretation of a key theoretical tool in the human and social sciences. This accessible book argues, contrary to orthodoxy in politics, economics, and management science, that decision theory cannot provide a theory of rationality.
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  6. Gunnar Björnsson (2005). Christine Korsgaards moralfilosofi. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 1:38–54.
    Critical introduction in Swedish of Christine Korsgaard's Sources of Normativity and Self-Constitution.
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  7. Nicolas Bommarito (2010). Rationally Self-Ascribed Anti-Expertise. Philosophical Studies 151 (3):413-419.
    I argue that self-ascribed anti-expertise, taking our own beliefs to be false, is not always irrational.
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  8. David Botting (2014). A Defence Of Broome’s First-Order Model Of Practical Reasoning. Prolegomena 13 (1):163-182.
    In this paper I will consider criticisms that have been raised against Broome’s first-order model of practical reasoning by Bratman, Brunero, and Høj. I will modify Broome’s exposition so that it is no longer vulnerable to these objections. The main modification I will make is that I will take the principle Broome dubs the “beliefintention link” to express a pragmatic implicature instead of a material implication, on the basis of which implicatures the process of reasoning Broome describes reaches the conclusion-states (...)
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  9. A. Brand Ronald, Flechtner Harry & Ferrari Franco (2009). Writing Requirements: Article 11-13. In Ronald A. Brand, Harry Flechtner & Franco Ferrari (eds.), The Draft Uncitral Digest and Beyond: Cases, Analysis and Unresolved Issues in the U.N. Sales Convention. Sellier de Gruyter.
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  10. Tad Brennan (2013). Casey Perin's The Demands of Reason. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4):283-293.
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  11. Ingar Brinck & Peter Gärdenfors (2003). Co–Operation and Communication in Apes and Humans. Mind and Language 18 (5):484–501.
    We trace the difference between the ways in which apes and humans co–operate to differences in communicative abilities, claiming that the pressure for future–directed co–operation was a major force behind the evolution of language. Competitive co–operation concerns goals that are present in the environment and have stable values. It relies on either signalling or joint attention. Future–directed co–operation concerns new goals that lack fixed values. It requires symbolic communication and context–independent representations of means and goals. We analyse these ways of (...)
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  12. John Broome (forthcoming). Requirements. Hommage à Wlodek; 60 Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz.
    The object of this paper is to explore the intersection of two issues – both of them of considerable interest in their own right. The first concerns the role that feasibility considerations play in constraining normative claims – claims, say, about what we (individually and collectively) ought to do and to be. This issue has particular relevance for the confrontation of moral philosophy with economics (and social science more generally). The second issue concerns whether normative claims are to be understood (...)
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  13. John Broome (2013). Rationality Through Reasoning. Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Rationality Through Reasoning_ answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather than something that happens in us Gives (...)
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  14. John Broome (2008). Reply to Southwood, Kearns and Star, and Cullity. Ethics 119 (1):96-108.
  15. John Broome (2007). Wide or Narrow Scope? Mind 116 (462):359-370.
    This paper is a response to ‘Why Be Rational?’ by Niko Kolodny. Kolodny argues that we have no reason to satisfy the requirements of rationality. His argument assumes that these requirements have a logically narrow scope. To see what the question of scope turns on, this comment provides a semantics for ‘requirement’. It shows that requirements of rationality have a wide scope, at least under one sense of ‘requirement’. Consequently Kolodny's conclusion cannot be derived.
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  16. John Broome (2007). Does Rationality Consist in Responding Correctly to Reasons? Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3):349-374.
    Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. That is: necessarily, if you are rational you respond correctly to your beliefs about reasons.
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  17. John Broome (2005). Does Rationality Give Us Reasons? Philosophical Issues 15 (1):321–337.
  18. John Broome (2001). Normative Practical Reasoning: John Broome. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75 (1):175–193.
    Practical reasoning is a process of reasoning that concludes in an intention. One example is reasoning from intending an end to intending what you believe is a necessary means: 'I will leave the next buoy to port; in order to do that I must tack; so I'll tack', where the first and third sentences express intentions and the second sentence a belief. This sort of practical reasoning is supported by a valid logical derivation, and therefore seems uncontrovertible. A more contentious (...)
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  19. John Broome (1999). Normative Requirements. Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
    Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...)
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  20. John Brunero (2012). Instrumental Rationality, Symmetry and Scope. Philosophical Studies 157 (1):125-140.
    Instrumental rationality prohibits one from being in the following state: intending to pass a test, not intending to study, and believing one must intend to study if one is to pass. One could escape from this incoherent state in three ways: by intending to study, by not intending to pass, or by giving up one’s instrumental belief. However, not all of these ways of proceeding seem equally rational: giving up one’s instrumental belief seems less rational than giving up an end, (...)
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  21. John Brunero (2010). The Scope of Rational Requirements. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238):28-49.
    Niko Kolodny has argued that some (local) rational requirements are narrow-scope requirements. Against this, I argue here that all (local) rational requirements are wide-scope requirements. I present a new objection to the narrow-scope interpretations of the four specific rational requirements which Kolodny considers. His argument for the narrow-scope interpretations of these four requirements rests on a false assumption, that an attitude which puts in place a narrow-scope rational requirement somewhere thereby puts in place a narrow-scope rational requirement everywhere. My argument (...)
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  22. John Brunero & Niko Kolodny (2013). Instrumental Rationality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  23. Luis Cheng-Guajardo (2014). The Normative Requirement of Means-End Rationality and Modest Bootstrapping. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):487-503.
    “Myth theorists” have recently called the normative requirement of means-end rationality into question. I show that we can accept certain lessons from the Myth Theorists and also salvage our intuition that there is a normative requirement of means-end rationality. I argue that any appeal to a requirement to make our attitudes coherent as such is superfluous and unnecessary in order to vindicate the requirement of means-end rationality and also avoid the problematic conclusion that persons ought to take the means to (...)
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  24. David Christensen (2004). Putting Logic in its Place: Formal Constraints on Rational Belief. Oxford University Press.
    What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way - either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical consequences of one's beliefs. A less popular picture sees belief as a graded phenomenon.
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  25. Roger Clarke (2015). Preface Writers Are Consistent. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97.
    The preface paradox does not show that it can be rational to have inconsistent beliefs, because preface writers do not have inconsistent beliefs. I argue, first, that a fully satisfactory solution to the preface paradox would have it that the preface writer's beliefs are consistent. The case here is on basic intuitive grounds, not the consequence of a theory of rationality or of belief. Second, I point out that there is an independently motivated theory of belief – sensitivism – which (...)
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  26. Christian Coons & David Faraci (2010). First-Personal Authority and the Normativity of Rationality. Philosophia 38 (4):733-740.
    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 (...)
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  27. William H. Crilly (1965). Man, the Rational Animal - The Scope of Logic. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 39:194.
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  28. Garrett Cullity (2016). Describing Rationality. Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3399-3411.
    This critical study of John Broome’s Rationality Through Reasoning raises some questions about the various requirements of rationality Broome formulates, pointing out some apparent gaps and counterexamples; proposes a general description of rationality that is broadly consistent with Broome’s requirements while providing them with a unifying justification, filling the gaps, and removing the counterexamples; and presents two objections to the book’s broader argument concerning the nature and importance of reasoning.
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  29. Ronald De Sousa (2006). Restoring Emotion's Bad Rep: The Moral Randomness of Norms. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 2 (1):29-47.
    Despite the fact that common sense taxes emotions with irrationality, philosophers have, by and large, celebrated their functionality. They are credited with motivating, steadying, shaping or harmonizing our dispositions to act, and with policing norms of social behaviour. It's time to restore emotion's bad rep. To this end, I shall argue that we should expect that some of the “norms” enforced by emotions will be unevenly distributed among the members of our species, and may be dysfunctional at the individual, social, (...)
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  30. Gerald Doppelt (1988). The Philosophical Requirements for an Adequate Conception of Scientific Rationality. Philosophy of Science 55 (1):104-133.
    I argue that post-Kuhnian approaches to rational scientific change fail to appreciate several distinct philosophical requirements and relativist challenges that have been assumed to be, and may in fact be essential to any adequate conception of scientific rationality. These separate requirements and relativist challenges are clearly distinguished and motivated. My argument then focuses on Shapere's view that there are typically good reasons for scientific change. I argue: that contrary to his central aim, his account of good reasons ultimately presupposes the (...)
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  31. Julien Dutant & Clayton Littlejohn (forthcoming). Just Do It? When to Do What You Judge You Ought to Do. Synthese:1-18.
    While it is generally believed that justification is a fallible guide to the truth, there might be interesting exceptions to this general rule. In recent work on bridge-principles, an increasing number of authors have argued that truths about what a subject ought to do are truths we stand in some privileged epistemic relation to and that our justified normative beliefs are beliefs that will not lead us astray. If these bridge-principles hold, it suggests that justification might play an interesting role (...)
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  32. Gheorghe-Ilie Farte (2015). On the Presence of Educated Religious Beliefs in the Public Sphere. Argumentum. Journal of the Seminar of Discursive Logic, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric 13 (2):146-178.
    Discursive liberal democracy might not be the best of all possible forms of government, yet in Europe it is largely accepted as such. The attractors of liberal democracy (majority rule, political equality, reasonable self-determination and an ideological framework built in a tentative manner) as well as an adequate dose of secularization (according to the doctrine of religious restraint) provide both secularist and educated religious people with the most convenient ideological framework. Unfortunately, many promoters of ideological secularization take too strong a (...)
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  33. Julian Fink (2016). Normative Lessons for the Scope Debate of Rational Requirements. Balkan Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):99-106.
    A significant part of the debate concerning the nature of rational requirements centers on disambiguating ordinary articulations of conditional requirements of rationality. Particular focus has been put on the question of whether conditional requirements of rationality take a wide or a narrow logical scope. However, this paper shows that this focus is misguided and harmful to the debate. I argue that concentrating on syntactic scope renders us more likely to arrive at incorrect formulations of rational requirements and to overlook questions (...)
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  34. Julian Fink (2014). A Constitutive Account of 'Rationality Requires'. Erkenntnis (4):909-941.
    The requirements of rationality are fundamental in practical and theoretical philosophy. Nonetheless, there exists no correct 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 of subjective incoherence’, 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 (...)
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  35. Julian Fink (2012). The Function of Normative Process-Requirements. Dialectica 66 (1):115-136.
    This paper discusses whether rationality, morality or prudence impose process-requirements upon us. It has been argued that process-requirements fulfil two essential functions within a system of rational, moral or prudential requirements. These functions are considered to prove the existence of process-requirements. First, process-requirements are deemed necessary to ensure that rationality, morality or prudence can guide our deliberations and actions. Second, their existence is regarded as essential for the correctness of our ordinary explanations of why a person possesses a certain degree (...)
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  36. Julian Fink (2010). Asymmetry, Scope, and Rational Consistency. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):109-130.
    Suppose rationality requires you to A if you believe you ought to A. Suppose you believe that you ought to A. How can you satisfy this requirement? One way seems obvious. You can satisfy this requirement by A-ing. But can you also satisfy it by stopping to believe that you ought to A? Recently, it has been argued that this second option is not a genuine way of satisfying the above requirement. Conditional requirements of rationality do not have two ‘symmetric’, (...)
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  37. Stephen Finlay (2010). What Ought Probably Means, and Why You Can't Detach It. Synthese 177 (1):67 - 89.
    Some intuitive normative principles raise vexing 'detaching problems' by their failure to license modus ponens. I examine three such principles (a self-reliance principle and two different instrumental principles) and recent stategies employed to resolve their detaching problems. I show that solving these problems necessitates postulating an indefinitely large number of senses for 'ought'. The semantics for 'ought' that is standard in linguistics offers a unifying strategy for solving these problems, but I argue that an alternative approach combining an end-relational theory (...)
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  38. Patrick Fleming (2008). On a Purported Principle of Practical Reason. Journal of Philosophical Research 33:143-162.
    A number of philosophers are attracted to the Principle of the Priority of Belief (or PPB) in practical matters. PPB has two parts: (1) it is a principle of practical reason to adjust your desires in accordance with your evaluative beliefs and (2) you should not adjust your evaluative beliefs in accordance with your desires. The central claim of this principle is that beliefs rightly govern desires and that desires have no authority over beliefs. This paper advances conceptual and empiricalarguments (...)
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  39. John Gardner, State or Process Requirements?
    Mind 116:462 (2007): 371–85. (A reply to John Broome’s comment, “Wide or Narrow Scope?”).
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  40. John Gardner, How Does Coherence Matter?
    Recently, much attention has been paid to ‘rational requirements’ and, especially, to what I call ‘rational requirements of formal coherence as such’. These requirements are satisfied just when our attitudes are formally coherent: for example, when our beliefs do not contradict each other. Nevertheless, these requirements are puzzling. In particular, it is unclear why we should satisfy them. In light of this, I explore the conjecture that there are no requirements of formal coherence. I do so by trying to construct (...)
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  41. Jens Gillessen (2015). Do Intentions Set Up Rational Defaults? Commitments, Reasons, and the Diachronic Dimension of Rationality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2):1-36.
    Suppose that you do not do what you have previously decided to do. Are you to be charged with irrationality? A number of otherwise divergent theories of practical rationality hold that by default, you are; there are rational pressures, it is claimed, that favor the long-term stability and eventual execution of distal intentions. The article challenges this view by examining how these purported pressures can be spelled out. Is intention a normative commitment to act? Are intentions reasons for action – (...)
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  42. Bruno Guindon (2016). Sources, Reasons, and Requirements. Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1253-1268.
    This paper offers two competing accounts of normative requirements, each of which purports to explain why some—but not all—requirements are normative in the sense of being related to normative reasons in some robust way. According to the reasons-sensitive view, normative requirements are those and only those which are sensitive to normative reasons. On this account, normative requirements are second-order statements about what there is conclusive reason to do, in the broad sense of the term. According to the reasons-providing view—which I (...)
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  43. Johan E. Gustafsson (2016). Money Pumps, Incompleteness, and Indeterminacy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (1):60-72.
    In an alleged counter-example to the completeness of rational preferences, a career as a clarinettist is compared with a career in law. It seems reasonable to neither want to judge that the law career is at least as preferred as the clarinet career nor want to judge that the clarinet career is at least as preferred as the law career. The two standard interpretations of examples of this kind are, first, that the examples show that preferences are rationally permitted to (...)
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  44. Johan E. Gustafsson (2013). The Irrelevance of the Diachronic Money-Pump Argument for Acyclicity. Journal of Philosophy 110 (8):460–464.
    The money-pump argument is the standard argument for the acyclicity of rational preferences. The argument purports to show that agents with cyclic preferences are in some possible situations forced to act against their preference. In the usual, diachronic version of the money-pump argument, such agents accept a series of trades that leaves them worse off than before. Two stock objections are (i) that one may get the drift and refuse the trades and (ii) that one may adopt a plan to (...)
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  45. Johan E. Gustafsson (2010). A Money-Pump for Acyclic Intransitive Preferences. Dialectica 64 (2):251–257.
    The standard argument for the claim that rational preferences are transitive is the pragmatic money-pump argument. However, a money-pump only exploits agents with cyclic strict preferences. In order to pump agents who violate transitivity but without a cycle of strict preferences, one needs to somehow induce such a cycle. Methods for inducing cycles of strict preferences from non-cyclic violations of transitivity have been proposed in the literature, based either on offering the agent small monetary transaction premiums or on multi-dimensional preferences. (...)
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  46. Johan E. Gustafsson & Nicolas Espinoza (2010). Conflicting Reasons in the Small-Improvement Argument. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):754–763.
    The small-improvement argument is usually considered the most powerful argument against comparability, viz the view that for any two alternatives an agent is rationally required either to prefer one of the alternatives to the other or to be indifferent between them. We argue that while there might be reasons to believe each of the premises in the small-improvement argument, there is a conflict between these reasons. As a result, the reasons do not provide support for believing the conjunction of the (...)
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  47. Brian Hedden (2016). Mental Processes and Synchronicity. Mind 125 (499):873-888.
    I have advocated a time-slice-centric model of rationality, according to which there are no diachronic requirements of rationality. Podgorski challenges this picture on the grounds that temporally extended mental processes are epistemically important, rationally evaluable, and governed by diachronic requirements. I argue that the particular cases that Podgorski marshals to make his case are unconvincing, but that his general challenge might motivate countenancing rational requirements on processes like reasoning. However, so long as such diachronic requirements are merely derivative of more (...)
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  48. Brian Hedden (2013). Incoherence Without Exploitability. Noûs 47 (3):482-495.
  49. Brian Hedden (2012). Options and the Subjective Ought. Philosophical Studies 158 (2):343-360.
    Options and the subjective ought Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9880-0 Authors Brian Hedden, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
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  50. Iwao Hirose & Andrew Reisner (eds.) (2015). Weighing and Reasoning: Themes From the Philosophy of John Broome. Oxford University Press UK.
    John Broome has made major contributions to, and radical innovations in, contemporary moral philosophy. His research combines the formal method of economics with the philosophical analysis. Broome's works stretch over formal axiology, decision theory, philosophy of economics, population axiology, the value of life, the ethics of climate change, the nature of rationality, and practical and theoretical reasoning. Weighing and Reasoning brings together fifteen original essays from leading philosophers who have been influenced by the work and thought of John Broome.They explore (...)
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