Forms of Rational Agency

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 80:171-193 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A measure of good and bad is internal to something falling under it when that thing falls under the measure in virtue of what it is. The concept of an internal standard has broad application. Compare the external breed standards arbitrarily imposed at a dog show with the internal standards of health at work in the veterinarian's office. This paper is about practical standards, measures of acting well and badly, and so measures deployed in deliberation and choice. More specifically, it is about the attempt to explain the unconditional validity of certain norms (say, of justice and prudence) by showing them to be internal to our agency and the causality it involves. This is constitutivism. Its most prominent incarnations share a set of assumptions about the nature of agency and our knowledge of it: conceptualism, formalism and absolutism. This essay investigates the merits and viability of rejecting all of them while still seeking the ground of practical normativity in what we are, in our fundamental activity.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 84,292

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Is The Concept Of Rational Agency Coherent?Bryony Pierce - 2006 - Philosophical Writings 33 (3).
Group Agency and Individualism.Carol Rovane - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S9):1663-1684.
Non-rational aspects of skilled agency.Yannig Luthra - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2267-2289.
More Than a Feeling.E. Sonny Elizondo - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):425-442.
Agency Incompatibilism and Divine Agency.Helen Steward - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (3):67--78.
Free agency: A non-reductionist causal account.Wilhelm Vossenkuhl - 1981 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 14 (1):113-132.
Agency in Action. The Practical Rational Agency Machine.S. Coval & P. Campbell - 1994 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 56 (3):595-596.
Free Agency: A Non-Reductionist Causal Account.Wilhelm Vossenkuhl - 1981 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 14 (1):113-132.
Three conceptions of rational agency.R. Jay Wallace - 1999 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (3):217-242.


Added to PP

140 (#105,917)

6 months
8 (#120,050)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Douglas Lavin
University College London

Citations of this work

In Defense of Constitutivism About Epistemic Normativity.David Horst - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):232-258.
Two Sorts of Constitutivism.Jeremy David Fix - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (1):1-20.
The Error Condition.Jeremy David Fix - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (1):34-48.
The Instrumental Rule.Jeremy David Fix - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (4):444-462.
New Shmagency Worries.Olof Leffler - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 15 (2):121-145.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations