Ambivalence, Incoherence, and Self-Governance

In Dimitria Gatzia & Berit Brogaard (eds.), The Philosophy and Psychology of Ambivalence: Being of Two Minds. London, UK: Routledge (forthcoming)
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The paper develops two objections to Michael Bratman’s self-governance approach to the normativity of rational requirements. Bratman, drawing upon work by Harry Frankfurt, argues that having a place where one stands is a necessary, constitutive element of self-governance, and that violations of the consistency and coherence requirements on intentions make one lack a place where one stands. This allows for reasons of self-governance to ground reasons to comply with these rational requirements, thereby vindicating the normativity of rationality. The first objection is that the account under-generates reasons, since not all cases of incoherence will involve a failure to have a place where one stands. The second objection is that the account over-generates reasons: we would have strong reasons to avoid both incoherence and ambivalence. However, if we follow Frankfurt in thinking that ambivalence is a “disease of the will” that is as irrational as having contradictory beliefs, this second objection doesn’t get off the ground. Thus, the first part of the paper is devoted to explaining why Frankfurt’s argument for the irrationality of ambivalence fails.
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