Action for the sake of ...: Caring and the rationality of (social) action

Analyse & Kritik 24 (2):189--208 (2002)
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My aim is to understand at least some of the non-instrumental reasons we can have for action in a way that can provide a satisfying non-egoist account of 'social actions' - actions undertaken for the sake of others. I do this in part by presenting, in terms of a discussion of the rationality of emotions, an account of what it is for something to have import to an agent . I then extend this account to include our caring about others as agents, in part by revealing the way in which one's emotional and desiderative responsiveness to another agent one cares about must be sensitive to her cares, so that one comes to share her cares. The upshot is substantial revision in our understanding of agency, both in terms of our understanding of the role emotions play in our agency and in terms of a careful extension of the scope of practical rationality to include what I call a 'rationality of import'



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Bennett W. Helm
Franklin and Marshall College

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