metaphysical meanderings

a quasi-conservative soldier journalist indulges in contemplative compulsions

Archive for March 2011

Rationality and Morality: What’s the Connection?

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If I fail to do what is moral, am I also failing to heed rationality? Conversely, if I succeed in doing what is moral am I being rational? This pair of questions is hotly contested in moral philosophy. Humeans (inasmuch as they are in line with Hume) say no, and Kantians and Virtue Ethicists say yes. Consequentialists get uneasy when they realize no answer to this question falls out of their theory, but I’ve found that most, when pressed, end up siding with the Humeans.
Here’s a brief argument (or rather an intertwined pair of arguments) to show that that Kantian/Virtue Ethics position is correct:


1.) Responding to reasons is rational; failing to respond to reasons is irrational. (Assumption; though I see a case for tautology)

2.) You have reasons to behave morally and reasons for not behaving immorally. (Assumption; though I see a case for tautology.)

3.) So, a.) all else equal, inasmuch as you behave morally you are being rational in that regard and b.) all else equal, inasmuch as you fail to behave morally you are being irrational in that regard. (1-2 MP)

Perhaps it could be objected that I’m using reasons so broadly that it becomes trivial. I do not think that is the case; the Humean, it seems to me, is genuinely committed to rejecting my conclusion.


Written by Spencer

March 20, 2011 at 1:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized