David snapped his laptop shut and went to get his coat. The paper was due tomorrow and he knew he should check it over a few more times, but going out just seemed to make more sense. What was more rational anyway; doing what you judge or what you feel?

                                  

So I’ve been thinking about reasons and rationality a lot today. What is it that makes an action rational exactly? That it’s done in accordance with reasons, or that it’s done for reasons (done for the best reasons perhaps)?

Maybe to be rational you need to do what you judge you have most reason to do, our reflective capacities, we might think after all, have been sculpted by our evolution to track what reasons we have and identify the best course of action. Perhaps we adopt a norm of doing what we judge we ought to do and thereby make our judgement the source of rationality in action.

What is a reason for action supposed to be anyway? A desire to act in that way? An appraisal of that action as good? A consideration that makes that action understandable to you?

The action in the mini-saga above is an example of ‘akrasia.’ Basically, acting against what you have judged you have most reason to do. It’s a pretty odd phenomenon really, that we can deliberate about what we ought to do, all things considered, and then decide to do something else anyway. It’s like the mechanisms in our mind get out of sync, prompting us to see that some of the cogs turning in our head are really quite disjointed…

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2 responses »

  1. Michael says:

    I thought it best not to comment on this one.

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