Rational responsibility for preferences and moral responsibility for character traits


A theory of rationality evaluates actions and actors as rational or irrational. Assessing preferences themselves as rational or irrational is contrary to the orthodox view of rational choice. The orthodox view takes preferences as given, holding them beyond reproach, and assesses actions as rational or irrational depending on whether the actions tend to serve as effective means to the satisfaction of the given preferences. Against this view, this paper argues that preferences themselvesare indeed proper objects of rational evaluation. This evaluation of preferences is driven by whether holding and acting on them conduces to, or interferes with the satisfaction of other, more important preferences. Taking the lead from methods in moral theory of holding individuals responsible for their moral or immoral character traits, this paper goes on to sketch parallel ways of determining an agent’s rational responsibility for her rational or irrational preferences

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,766

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

55 (#210,389)

6 months
1 (#386,499)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Donald W. Bruckner
University of Pittsburgh (PhD)

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

Silent Prudence.Donald W. Bruckner - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):349-364.

Add more citations