On the obligation to be rational

Shackel, Nicholas (2004) On the obligation to be rational. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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I formulate what I believe to be a correct account of the normativity of rationality. I identify two opposing doctrines which I call instrumentalism and rationalism. Instrumentalism says there are no obligations to be rational intrinsic to rationality, but that being rational is instrumental to doing what ought to be done. Rationalism says there are intrinsically rational obligations. I give arguments for instrumentalism and show how a bifurcation in normativity undermines characteristic Aristotelian and Kantian arguments in support of rationalism. I concede that the confrontation between instrumentalism and rationalism cannot be settled in the thesis, since it depends in part on a fundamental dispute about the nature of rationality. However, the doctrine of instrumentalism gives a particularly clear picture of how obligation and rationality are related, and I believe I have shown instrumentalism to be a doctrine which must be taken seriously. Consequently, I believe my thesis to be a contribution to the Humean view of the relation of obligation and reason.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Kirk, R.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 12984
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2012 10:57
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 23:34
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12984

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