SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Correctly Responding to Reasons While Being Incoherent
(Epistemology, English)

I examine Reason Responsiveness (RR) accounts of rationality. I will analyse and argue against the strategy of RR proponents (namely Lord and Kiesewetter) to account for a datum that is traditionally associated with the concept of rationality, namely Structural Irrationality (SI). Necessarily, if agent A holds certain combinations of incoherent mental attitudes, A is irrational. RR accounts argue that rationality requires A to correctly respond to the normative reasons (hereafter, reason(s)) that are (in some sense) epistemically available to A. Rational requirements are said to be exhausted by such reason response requirements (RRRs). Therefore, RR proponents must account for (SI) by holding Coherence as By-Product (CBP). Necessarily, if A displays any form of structural irrationality, A is not correctly responding to her available reasons (i.e. A violates at least one RRR).

I will focus on how this general strategy is applied to cases of means-end incoherence, i.e. cases where, roughly, an agent intends to perform an action E but does not intend to perform an action M, which she believes to be necessary for E-ing. In certain cases of means-ends incoherence, a transmission principle is needed to account for (CBP). Roughly, this principle amounts to (TP). Necessarily, if (and if because)

(1) A has decisive available reason to intend to E and

(2) A has decisive available reason to believe that intending to M is necessary for E-ing,

it follows (3) A has decisive available reason to intend to M.

After clarifying and amending (TP), I argue that even the most plausible version of (TP), (TP*), does not hold true. This is because the strength of A's reason to intend to E is not transmitted to what is (only) likely, given A's evidence, to be a necessary means. Thus, given certain assumptions, A's reason to intend M will be weaker than A's reason to intend E. This result will lead me to deny (TP*) and hence (CBP). This puts pressure on RR accounts as their strategy to explain (SI) fails.

Two main steps are needed. First, I will provide an account of the strength of A's evidence for a proposition. Second, I will connect A's evidence for "ought"-propositions (of the form 'A ought to φ') to A's available reasons to φ (φ is a belief or intention). Thereby, I establish various principles which allow me to present a counter-example against (TP*).

Chair: Basil Müller
Time: 19:00-19:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: HS E.002

Leonhard Schneider 
(University of Bayreuth, Germany)

Leonhard Schneider studies Philosophy & Economics (BA) at the University of Bayreuth. For the academic year 2018/2019, he is a Visiting Student (Philosophy) at St. Catherin's College, Oxford. His main philosophical interest is in normativity (metaethics, reasons and rationality). He intends to continue to study philosophy, after completing his BA (expected in 2020).

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