Authors
Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University
Abstract
I argue that when determining whether an agent ought to perform an act, we should not hold fixed the fact that she’s going to form certain attitudes (and, here, I’m concerned with only reasons-responsive attitudes such as beliefs, desires, and intentions). For, as I argue, agents have, in the relevant sense, just as much control over which attitudes they form as which acts they perform. This is important because what effect an act will have on the world depends not only on which acts the agent will simultaneously and subsequently perform, but also on which attitudes she will simultaneously and subsequently form. And this all leads me to adopt a new type of practical theory, which I call rational possibilism. On this theory, we first evaluate the entire set of things over which the agent exerts control, where this includes the formation of certain attitudes as well as the performance of certain acts. And, then, we evaluate individual acts as being permissible if and only if, and because, there is such a set that is itself permissible and that includes that act as a proper part. Importantly, this theory has two unusual features. First, it is not exclusively act-orientated, for it requires more from us than just the performance of certain voluntary acts. It requires, in addition, that we involuntarily form certain attitudes. Second, it is attitude-dependent in that it holds that which acts we’re required to perform depends on which attitudes we’re required to form. I then show how these two features can help us both to address certain puzzling cases of rational choice and to understand why most typical practical theories (utilitarianism, virtue ethics, rational egoism, Rossian deontology, etc.) are problematic.
Keywords actualism  possibilism  obligation  reasons-responsiveness  rationality  control  deontic logics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Responsibility for Believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.
The Toxin Puzzle.Gregory S. Kavka - 1983 - Analysis 43 (1):33-36.
Reasons.John Broome - 2004 - In R. Jay Wallace (ed.), Reason and Value: Themes From the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz. Oxford University Press. pp. 2004--28.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Parfit on Reasons and Rule Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - In Simon Kirchin (ed.), Reading Parfit. Routledge.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rationality and Reflection.Jeffrey S. Seidman - 2003 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (2):201-214.
Taking on Intentions.Chrisoula Andreou - 2009 - Ratio 22 (2):157-169.
Why Be Rational.Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
Rational and Irrational Intentions: An Argument for Externalism.Wilhelm Vossenkuhl - 2002 - In Verena Mayer & Sabine A. Döring (eds.), Die Moralität der Gefühle. De Gruyter. pp. 163-174.
Attitudinal Control.Conor McHugh - 2017 - Synthese 194 (8):2745-2762.
Belief and Indeterminacy.Michael Caie - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (1):1-54.
Is There a Nexus Between Reasons and Rationality?Michael Smith - 2007 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 94 (1):279-298.
Doxastic Voluntarism.Rico Vitz - 2008 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Rational Self-Commitment.Bruno Verbeek - 2007 - In Fabienne Peter & Hans Bernhard Schmidt (eds.), rationality and commitment. Oxford University Press.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-01-22

Total views
284 ( #34,653 of 2,461,450 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
23 ( #35,006 of 2,461,450 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes