SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Persistence of Intention -- Rationality of Reconsideration
(Action Theory, English)

It has been argued that if someone forms an intention, she should also be committed to what she has intended. Put differently, her intention should have a certain stability. One response to the question why intentions should by default have that stability, is to say that it would be irrational to have unstable intentions. Intuitively this is so, because we are agents with limited mental capacities. We don't always have time to deliberate and thus have to settle some mattes in advance. One proponent of this explanation is John Broome. In his book 'Rationality through Reasoning', he has argued that someone who without reasons fails to do as she has earlier on decided to do, violates a rational requirement called persistence of intention. Center stage in this requirement takes the notion of considering whether one X's.
In my presentation I want to argue that his requirement is deficient. On the one hand, it is too weak in the sense that it doesn't put enough rational pressure on an agent in cases of temptation. On the other hand, it is too strong since it admits for something known in the literature as bootstrapping, falsely rationalizing sticking to an irrational intention. This is typically justified through an inference rule, Broome accepts and that can be found in numerous similar accounts, called necessary detachment.
To solve these problems, I argue that two things have to be done. First, one has to give an account of what it means to rationally reconsider. Secondly, one has to specify Broome's inference rule called necessary detachment.
The first problem is particularly challenging, since reconsideration can be of two different kinds.One can consider reflectively, which means that one deliberates whether to consider a previously formed resolve. But the most typical form of reconsideration is just to start reconsidering non-reflectively. Non-reflective consideration is thus guided by habits, dispositions and capacities.
Given this discussion, I argue that spelling out rational reconsideration in terms of a logical vocabulary will help us to determine what it means that one necessarily cannot rationally reconsider in the reflective and the non-reflective case of reconsideration. This helps us to solve and clarify the bootstrapping and temptation challenges.

Chair: Albert Anglberger
Time: 15:45-16:15, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.004

Franz Altner 
(Universität Leipzig, Germany)



I am currently completing a Master in Logic at the University of Leipzig. In the course of my studies there I have done several courses on non-classical logics and the philosophy of action. I have spent my last year studying at the University of Vienna, taking courses at the mathematics Master in mathematical logic, set and model theory. Philosophically I have concentrated on courses in the theory of mind and group action. Concerning the latter, I plan to write my master thesis on team reasoning and social dilemmata.

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