Practical Rationality
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By In News and Events, Practical Rationality, Practical reasons, Reasons and rationality Comments Off on SLACRR 2017 Program

SLACRR 2017 Program

St. Louis Annual Conference on Reasons and Rationality 2017

May 21-23, 2017

Keynote: Kieran Setiya (MIT)

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By In Action Theory, Ideas, Metaethics, Practical Rationality, Practical reasons, Reasons and rationality, Value Theory Comments (4)

Decisive Reasons and Rational Supererogation

I have a roughly formulated and half-baked inquiry:

Suppose that rationality endorses maximizing utility, but there is room for rational supererogation, and so it is sometimes rationally permissible to drink a coffee even if doing so does not maximize utility.

Would you say that there is no decisive reason against drinking the coffee because, although drinking the coffee is rationally inferior to another available option, it is still rationally permissible?  Or would you say that, because drinking the coffee is rationally inferior to another available option, there is decisive reason against drinking the coffee even though drinking it is rationally permissible?

I am attracted to a usage of decisive reason according to which the consideration that C pinpoints a decisive reason against A’s X-ing if and only if, because C, A should not X.  Given this usage, there is no decisive reason against drinking the coffee (from the point of view of rationality) because, although drinking the coffee is rationally inferior to another available option, drinking the coffee is still rationally permissible and so it is not true that one should not drink the coffee.  I wonder if folks would balk at this implication and see usages with this implication as thereby counter-intuitive.

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By In Discussions, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics, Practical Rationality Comments (41)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Abe Roth’s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation,” with a critical précis by Sarah Stroud

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Abe Roth‘s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Sarah Stroud has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

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By In Ideas, Practical Rationality Comments (13)

Expected Regrets

Whenever I have had a major life decision to make, it has always struck me as of central – indeed, definitive – importance to think about whether I would regret my decision, if things turned out in one way rather than another.  But I find this a bit puzzling.  I’m going to try out one way of saying why.

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By In Ideas, Normative Ethics, Practical Rationality Comments (23)

Do we have Vague Projects?

Tenenbaum and Raffman (2012) claim that “most of our projects and ends are vague.” (p.99)  But I’m not convinced that any plausibly are.  On my own blog, I recently discussed the self-torturer case, and how our interest in avoiding pain is not vague but merely graded.  I think similar things can be said of other putative “vague” projects.

T&R’s central example of a vague project is writing a book:

Suppose you are writing a book. The success of your project is vague along many dimensions. What counts as a sufficiently good book is vague, what counts as an acceptable length of time to complete it is vague, and so on. (p.99)

But it strikes me as strange for one’s goal to be to reach some vague level of sufficiency.  When I imagine writing a book, my preferences here are graded: each incremental improvement in quality is pro tanto desirable; each reduction in time spent is also pro tanto desirable.  These two goals seem like they should be able to be traded off against each other — perhaps precisely, or (if they are not perfectly commensurable goods) then perhaps not, but this sort of rough incomparability between two goods is (I take it) not the same as either good itself being vague.
I could imagine a cynical person who really doesn’t care to improve the quality of their book above a sufficient level.  Perhaps they just want it to be of sufficient quality to earn a promotion, or some other positive social appraisal.  But these desired consequences are even more clearly not vague.

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By In Ideas, Metaethics, Practical Rationality, Reasons and rationality Comments (7)

Objective and subjective akrasia

Suppose that there is both an objective ‘ought’ and a subjective ‘ought’. Which of these two kinds of ‘ought’ figures in the anti-akrasia principle that it is irrational to do something at the same time as believing that one ought not to do it?

There is a simple of way of understanding the relation between the objective and the subjective ‘ought’ on which the answer to this question is: Both! It is irrational to do something at the same time as believing that one objectively ought not to do it; and it is also irrational to do something at the same time as believing that one subjectively ought not to do it.

(Note: The original version of this post contained a terrible mistake, which was pointed out by Doug Portmore and Jamie Dreier in their comments below. This is an amended version, without the mistake.)

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By In Action Theory, Metaethics, News and Events, Practical Rationality Comments Off on Conference: Practical Reason and Metaethics April 21-23

Conference: Practical Reason and Metaethics April 21-23

John Brunero and I are running a conference on Practical Reason and Metaethics, here in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 21st to 23rd. Speakers include Michael Bratman (Stanford), Stephen Darwall (Yale), Jonathan Drake (Texas), Amelia Hicks (Kansas State), Chris Howard (Arizona), Sarah McGrath (Princeton), Barry Maguire (UNC), and Sigrún Svavarsdóttir (Tufts). There were over 75 submissions for the refereed program and we expect it to be a very good conference.

There will be a free conference dinner Friday night and a party Saturday, so please register if you are coming by sending an email to nebraskaphilosophyconference@gmail.com stating that you plan on attending. There’s no fee to attend.

The conference website is https://sites.google.com/site/practicalreasonandmetaethics/. Further information and the schedule is below the fold.

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