Moral Reasons, Moral Action, and Rationality

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):557 - 577 (1982)
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I want to examine a relationship between rationality and moral behavior. To do this, I shall first set out some basic intuitions. Then, within that framework I shall raise a problem about the relationship between rationality and moral behavior; in particular, I shall suggest that present in these basic intuitions is an inconsistency which can be remedied only by a radical alteration of one intuition.It is rational to perform a morally right action. The sense of this claim is fairly clear, but the claim itself needs further articulation. For example, it is rational to conclude that the sum of 37 and 22 is 59, but the conclusion has not been reached rationally if the way in which one hit on 59 as the answer was to pluck a pea - luckily enough, number 59 - from the bingo basket. In speaking about a belief or an action being rational, reference must be made to an agent, to reasons, and to the agent's reasons.



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