Why Rational Deontological Action Optimizes Subjective Value

ProtoSociology 21:182-193 (2005)
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Abstract

In present day philosophy there are two competing views regarding practical rationality: (1) Decision and game theory and economic theory have developed a theory of rational decision which has proven to be fruitful in many areas of social science. Practical philosophy should work with that paradigm (2) Economic theory and decision theory do not have an adequate account of practical rationality. The homo oeconomicus model is – at best – one perspective which competes inter alia with philosophical accounts of practical reason.In this article I try to show that these two seemingly opposing views are in fact compatible. I argue that consequentialism is an inadequate account of rationality because rational action is deontological in character. Nevertheless the decision theoretic conceptual frame should not be given up. Deontology and decision theory can be made compatible via comprehensive description of action. The conceptual frame of decision theory should be interpreted as coherentist, not consequentialist. With this intertretation deontological action, if rational, maximizes subjective value.

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Julian Nida-Rümelin
Humboldt-University, Berlin

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