The real symmetry problem(s) for wide-scope accounts of rationality

Philosophical Studies (3):1-22 (2013)
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Abstract

You are irrational when you are akratic. On this point most agree. Despite this agreement, there is a tremendous amount of disagreement about what the correct explanation of this data is. Narrow-scopers think that the correct explanation is that you are violating a narrow-scope conditional requirement. You lack an intention to x that you are required to have given the fact that you believe you ought to x. Wide-scopers disagree. They think that a conditional you are required to make true is false. You aren’t required to have any particular attitudes. You’re just required to intend to x or not believe you ought to x. Wide-scope accounts are symmetrical insofar as they predict that you are complying with the relevant requirement just so long as the relevant conditional is true. Some narrow-scopers object to this symmetry. However, there is disagreement about why the symmetry is objectionable. This has led wide-scopers to defend their view against a number of different symmetry objections. I think their defenses in the face of these objections are, on the whole, plausible. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t defending their view against the best version of the objection. In this paper I will show that there is a symmetry objection to wide-scope accounts that both hasn’t been responded to and is a serious problem for wide-scope accounts. Moreover, my version of the objection will allow us to see that there is at least one narrow-scope view that has been seriously underappreciated in the literature

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Errol Lord
University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Instrumental Rationality.John Brunero & Niko Kolodny - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Coherent and the Rational.Errol Lord - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (2):151-175.
Understanding Conditionalization.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5):767-797.
Revisiting the Argument From Action Guidance.Philip Fox - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 15 (3).

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Impartial Reason.Stephen L. Darwall - 1983 - Cornell University Press.
Normative Requirements.John Broome - 1999 - Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
Reasons as Defaults.John F. Horty - 2012 - Oxford, England: Oup Usa.

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