Rationality and reflection

Seidman, Jeffrey S.
June 2003
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Jun2003, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p201
Academic Journal
Christine Korsgaard claims that an agent is less than fully rational if she allows some attitude to inform her deliberation even though she cannot justify doing so. I argue that there is a middle way, which Korsgaard misses, between the claim that our attitudes neither need nor admit of rational assessment, on the one hand, and Korsgaard's claim that the attitudes which inform our deliberation always require justification, on the other: an agent needs reasons to opt out of her concerns – not reasons to opt into them or to stay in. As long as an agent has no good reason to abandon some concern of hers, she is reasonable to harbour it, and to allow it to inform her view of what reasons she has. A rational agent must therefore have the capacity to form higher-order attitudes toward her concerns; but rationality only requires that she exercise that capacity when she has some good reason to do so.


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