Rationality and Commitment
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Rational choice theory forms the core of the economic approach to human behaviour. It is also the most influential philosophical account of practical rationality. Yet there are persistent controversies about the scope of rational choice theory in philosophy and, increasingly, in economics as well. A leading critic is the philosopher and Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, who put forward a trenchant critique of rational choice theory in his seminal paper 'Rational Fools'. Sen emphasizes the importance of commitment - those aspects of human behavior which dispose individuals to co-operate, follow norms, and identify with others. He argues that rational choice theory cannot accommodate commitment, and demands a more adequate account of rationality.
The question of how to account for the rationality of commitment is very much an open issue and, if anything, even more pressing today than when Sen first raised it. In Rationality and Commitment, thirteen leading philosophers and economists discuss Sen's claims and propose their own answers to the question of how to account for the rationality of committed action. The volume concludes with a specially-written reply by Sen, in which he responds to his critics and provides a rich commentary on the preceding essays.
given desire should simply start from the existence of that desire, putting it into the foreground of deliberation, as if it were something sacred and beyond question. But if we shouldn’t deliberate from the fact of what we happen to desire, what should we take as our point of deliberative departure in decisionmaking (Pettit and Smith 1990)? Presumably, we should enrich the base of deliberation to stipulate that it would be good or desirable or appropriate or whatever to bring about what is
can indeed be equated. But there is a narrower, more speciﬁc understanding of instrumental rationality according to which instrumental rationality is associated with a speciﬁc sort of ends, namely utility in the sense of self-interest maximization. In that case the means–end requirement is directed to a very speciﬁc end, namely maximizing one’s own advantage in a self-centered way. As a condition of rationality, instrumental rationality, it is often claimed, seems to be self-evident; it amounts,
Ellington. In Kant, Ethical Philosophy, 2nd edition. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company. 104 herlinde pauer-studer Korsgaard, Christine M. 1996. The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Korsgaard, Christine M. 1997. ‘‘The Normativity of Instrumental Reason.’’ In Garett Cullity and Berys Gaut (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 215–54. Korsgaard, Christine M. 1999. ‘‘Self-Constitution in the Ethics of Plato and Kant.’’ The Journal
it means for several individual actors to act as a ‘corporate actor’ can be resolved into inter-individual relations in a game internal to the ‘corporate actor’ (or to a ‘coalition’). In this game all the internal commitments of the corporate actor are explicitly modelled as rules of the game.2 For instance, if the corporate actor decides according to simple majority rule internally then this amounts to an internal commitment of the corporate actor. The internal voting game itself can be
is, reasons ‘‘add’’ to your decision. Reasons continue to play this role even when they are outweighed by alternative considerations. As Broome puts it, reasons are ‘‘slack’’ (they do not necessarily determine the outcome of rational deliberation) and ‘‘absolute’’ (they reside in fact and continue to exist even when outweighed).26 Requirements, on the other hand, have no weight. The requirement to F does not admit of degrees: either you are required to F or not. For example, you are required to