Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well-Informedness and rationality: a philosophical overview

There is a strong tendency in modern moral philosophy to impose restrictions on the range of desires that are to count as genuinely contributive to the desirer’s welfare. Perhaps the most frequent among such proposals is that only appropriately “informed” or “rational” desires are to count. I shall argue that the philosophical assumptions that underlie such suggestions suffer from the influence of equilibrium methodology and thus fall prey to the same shortcomings as it does. I shall also point to the similarities between the Austrian approach to rationality and the concept of “satisficing” (under a particular interpretation), which entered moral philosophy from the rational choice literature. Finally, I shall note that one crucial aspect of rationality that is ordinarily taken by the Austrians to be implicit in human action (i.e., the ability to grasp the logical relationship between the concepts that comprise the content of one’s aims and desires) should not be considered as such.

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