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Title: The Importance of Being Rational
Authors: Lord, Errol
Advisors: Smith, Michael A
Kelly, Thomas
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This work systematically defends the view that what it is to be rational is to correctly respond to the reasons that one possesses. It is broken into two parts. In Part I--entitled Coherence, Possession, and Correctly Responding--I explicate the details of my positive account. I begin my defense in chapter 2 by contrasting my view with a coherentist account of rationality popular in the literature on practical reason. I show that my view can explain the data that motivates the coherentist view without incurring its implausible implications. I then argue in chapter 3 that what it is to possess a reason R to x is to be in a position to know R and be disposed to treat R as a reason to x. Chapter 4, the final chapter in Part I, defends a view of what it is to correctly respond to the normative reasons you possess. According to this view, you correctly respond to reasons to x when you x for those reasons. I defend a novel causal account of what it is to x for normative reasons. I also extend the core idea of the account to an account of the broader notion of x-ing for reasons. Part II--entitled Foundationalism, Deception, and the Importance of Being Rational--confronts traditional problems for my type of view. Chapter 5 defends the claim that foundationalists about epistemic rationality should think that foundational beliefs are based on sufficiently strong possessed reasons. In Chapter 6 I argue that my view can explain why the systematically deceived can have rational beliefs and perform rational actions despite the fact that they don't possess the same reasons as those who are not systematically deceived. The final chapter deals with recent skepticism about the claim that rationality is deontically significant. I first make clear just what it would take for a view to meet the skeptical challenge and argue that the standard views in metaethics can't do what it takes. I then argue that my view can meet the challenge. In fact, I argue that what we ought to do just is what we are rationally required to do. Thus, being rational turns out to be very important indeed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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