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Epistemic Reasons and Rational Coherence: A New Answer to ‘Why be rational?’

Applicant Fink Julian
Number 148078
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut für Philosophie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.08.2014 - 31.03.2017
Approved amount 342'530.00
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Keywords (6)

wide- vs narrow-scope requirements; rationality; synchronic vs diachronic requirements; evidentialism vs pragmatism ; normativity ; normative reasons

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Um die Normen der Rationalität zu erfüllen, müssen unsere Meinungen, Intentionen, Erwartungen und Präferenzen kohärent und konsistent sein. Diese dürfen sich nicht widersprechen und müssen eine geordnete Einheit ergeben. Welche Gründe bestehen jedoch die Normen der Rationalität zu erfüllen? Ist es immer gerechtfertigt, nützlich oder von Wert kohärent und konsistent zu sein?
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Stellen sie sich vor sie haben ein feste Intention Pilot werden. Sie wissen um Pilot zu werden, müssen sie sich einer ärztlichen Untersuchung unterziehen. Jedoch haben sie keine Intention dies zu tun. Im Gegenteil. Sie haben sich vorgenommen nie wieder einen Arzt zu besuchen. In diesem Fall sind sie nicht vollständig rational. Sie verletzten eine zentrale Norm der Ziel-Mittel-Rationalität. Ist es jedoch auch der Fall, dass sie nicht ganz so sind wie sie sein sollen? Gibt es immer eine normative Rechtfertigung, die Norm der Ziel-Mittel Rationalität zu erfüllen?

Dieses Forschungsprojekt versucht diese Frage für einige zentrale Normen der Rationalität zu beantworten. Insbesondere wird es darum gehen zu zeigen, dass es erkenntnistheoretische Gründe gibt, zentrale Normen der Rationalität zu erfüllen. Eine besondere Rolle werden hierbei Gründe spielen, die sich auf normativen Meinungen beziehen (d.h. Meinungen über das, was wir tunsollen). 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Rationalität ist ein zentraler Wert der westlichen Welt. Dieses Projekt versucht diesen Status der Rationalität kritisch zu beleuchten. Dies wird zeigen, ob sich der Wert der Rationalität philosophisch rechtfertigen lässt. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.09.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The Property of Rationality: A Guide to What Rationality Requires?
Fink Julian (2017), The Property of Rationality: A Guide to What Rationality Requires?, in Philosophical Studies , 1-24.
The Ladder of Rationality
Fink Julian (2016), The Ladder of Rationality, in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , 19(3), 787-791.

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Types of collaboration
Ms Franziska Poprawe Germany (Europe)
- Publication
Prof Olav Gjelsvik / CSMN / University of Oslo Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof Matthew Braham / University of Bayreuth Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr Attila Tanyi / University of Konstanz Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Mr Daniel Schubert Germany (Europe)
- Publication
Prof John Broome / University of Oxford Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

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Philosophy Colloquium Individual talk The Essence of Attitudinal Irrationality 24.02.2017 Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine Fink Julian;
Philosophy Colloquium Individual talk The Essence of Attitudinal Irrationality. 17.02.2017 Lviv Polytechnic National University, Ukraine Fink Julian;
Workshop on Rationality & Normativity Talk given at a conference Beyond Intuitionism. An Algorithmic Approach to the Requirements of Rationality 28.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland Fink Julian;
Conference on Social Justice: New Perspectives, New Horizons Talk given at a conference Does price-quality consumerism exempt us from public norms of morality? 05.05.2016 Belgrad, Serbien Fink Julian;
Conference on Decision, Rational and Joint Action Talk given at a conference Beyond Intuitionism. An Algorithmic Approach to the Requirements of Rationality 15.04.2016 Budapest, Hungary Fink Julian;
Job Talks: Practical Philosophy Individual talk Beyond Intuitionism. An Algorithmic Approach to the Requirements of Rationality 12.01.2016 Bayreuth, Germany Fink Julian;
Departmental Colloquium Individual talk Why be enkratic?: A rational and a normative perspective 25.05.2015 Maribor, Slovenia Fink Julian;
Conference on The Normativity of Rationality (Fourth Annual Normativity Conference & Second Annual Southern Normativity Group Conference) Talk given at a conference Why be enkratic?: A rational and a normative perspective 05.05.2015 Cardiff , Great Britain and Northern Ireland Fink Julian;
A workshop on Sarah Buss’s ‘Moral Requirements, and the Ideal of Rational Agency’ Talk given at a conference A commentary on Sarah Buss’s ‘Moral Requirements, and the Ideal of Rational Agency’ 20.03.2015 Bern, Switzerland Fink Julian;
Departmental Colloquium Individual talk Constitutive Aims and Coherence 17.12.2014 Saarbrücken, Germany Fink Julian;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Rationality, Scope, and Normative Commitments 30.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – Who will be the 45th President of the USA? Talk 09.06.2016 Eisensadt, Austria Fink Julian;
What, if anything, justifies closed borders? A Thought Experiment Talk 14.05.2016 Eisenstadt, Austria Fink Julian;


Abstract

Suppose you intend to become a pilot. You know that you can become a pilot only if you undergo a medical examination. However, you have no intention of undergoing a medical examination. In fact, upon being asked if you plan to take a medical examination you reply that you intend to never see a doctor again in your life. It seems uncontroversial to say in these circumstances that you are not entirely rational. Your attitudes reveal that you are distinctly incoherent. However, can we also say that you are not entirely as you ought to be? Must you always have normative reasons to intend the means you take to be necessary for achieving your ends? At the centre of a recent and significant debate concerning reasons and rationality, a number of leading philosophers - including John Broome, Jonathan Dancy, Niko Kolodny, Michael Smith, and Joseph Raz - have put forward strong arguments against the view that we always ought to satisfy the norms of rationality. Their opposition to the view that rational requirements are normative can be summed up as follows: the normative reasons that apply to you depend on your situation; they are context-sensitive. Rational requirements, however, are not context sensitive; they apply to you across all possible contexts. Thus, there is no basis for supposing the position that there are necessarily reasons to satisfy the norms of rationality. Of course, there are contexts in which you may have a reason to satisfy a particular requirement of rationality; however, there is no basis for assuming that this is so in every context. Rational requirements are thus not necessarily normative.The present research project shows that this reasoning is fundamentally mistaken. I will establish the normativity of rational requirements by developing an innovative account of why we must have normative reasons to satisfy at least some requirements of rationality. My approach will challenge the putative context-sensitivity of some normative reasons, basing the normativity of rational requirements on the existence of some context-insensitive epistemic reasons that govern normative beliefs. In particular, I will demonstrate that we have reason not to believe that we ought to p if it is not the case that we ought to p. This reason, I will argue, not only governs normative beliefs, but also links to some central requirements of rationality. This project has both theoretical and practical importance. At the theoretical level, it closes a problematic and often neglected gap in the theory of rationality and improves our understanding of how reasons and rational requirements relate to each other. At the practical level, I will show that the value of rational coherence and consistency plays a vital role in determining what we ought to do. My arguments will also serve those who wish to answer the moral sceptic by showing that morality can be based on rational requirements. Determining the normative status of the requirements of rationality requires investigating a multitude of questions - many of which have received no or insufficient attention in the present literature. These include examining the precise explanatory relationship between reasons and rational requirements, the logical and temporal structure of rational requirements, and the exact circumstances under which a person can be said to be subject to a particular rational requirement. Furthermore, I shall develop an original account of the conditions under which rational requirements are normative and of whether we have instrumental or non-instrumental reasons to fulfil the requirements of rationality. Focusing on the conditions under which one has a reason to satisfy a requirement with a disjunctive content, i.e. a re-quirement that can be satisfied by more than one alternative response, I also investigate whether we have moral or prudential reasons to satisfy requirements of rationality. This will make precise the requirements’ significance for ethics and meta-ethics, and will also determine the importance of rationality for our practical lives. This project is divided it into five research phases. Each phase will tackle a particular aspect of the normativity of rational requirements and direct the line of argument in the following phases. At the end of each phase, I will to submit a paper to one of the high-calibre peer review journals in which the current debate is unfolding. In addition, I will consolidate the findings of the individual phases in a monograph, which I will publish with a major international publishing house.
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