Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):1 - 10 (1986)

Donald Hubin
Ohio State University
The thesis that rationality consists in the straight-forward maximization of utility has not lacked critics. Typically, however, detractors reject the Humean picture of rationality upon which it seems based; they seek to emancipate reason from the tyranny of the passions. It is, then, noteworthy when an attack on this thesis comes from ‘within the ranks.’David Gauthier's paper ‘Reason and Maximization’ is just such an attack; and for this reason, among others, it is interesting. It is not successful, though. In defense of this conclusion, we shall begin by relating the essentials of Gauthier's argument. Then we shall examine in some detail Gauthier's claim that the principle of straighforward max-imization fails to be self-supporting. We shall argue that Gauthier's defense of this claim is at best incomplete. Finally, we shall show that the fact that a normative principle is self-subverting or non-self-supporting does not entail that the principle is defective.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0045-5091
DOI 10.1080/00455091.1986.10717103
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Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
Philosophical Explanations. [REVIEW]Robert Nozick - 1981 - Philosophy 58 (223):118-121.
Counterfactuals and Two Kinds of Expected Utility.Allan Gibbard & William L. Harper - 1978 - In A. Hooker, J. J. Leach & E. F. McClennen (eds.), Foundations and Applications of Decision Theory. D. Reidel. pp. 125-162.
Reason and Maximization.David Gauthier - 1975 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 4 (3):411 - 433.

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