Imperfect Reasons and Rational Options

Noûs 46 (1):24 - 60 (2012)

Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University
Agents often face a choice of what to do. And it seems that, in most of these choice situations, the relevant reasons do not require performing some particular act, but instead permit performing any of numerous act alternatives. This is known as the basic belief. Below, I argue that the best explanation for the basic belief is not that the relevant reasons are incommensurable (Raz) or that their justifying strength exceeds the requiring strength of opposing reasons (Gert), but that they are imperfect reasons—reasons that do not support performing any particular act, but instead support choosing any of the numerous alternatives that would each achieve the same worthy end. In the process, I develop and defend a novel theory of objective rationality, arguing that it is superior to its two most notable rivals
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00780.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,928
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Engaging Reason: On the Theory of Value and Action.Joseph Raz - 1999 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
The Toxin Puzzle.Gregory S. Kavka - 1983 - Analysis 43 (1):33-36.
The Concept of Moral Obligation.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2000 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):242-244.

View all 41 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Perform a Justified Option.Joshua Gert - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (2):206-217.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
116 ( #58,633 of 2,319,058 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #141,696 of 2,319,058 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature